The Root Collective partners with makers in Guatemala to produce handcrafted shoes from handwoven textiles. Their makers are defying the odds in their communities by providing jobs, food, and family to many without.
The Root Collective keeps their margins slim because they don’t take advantage of their makers and pay them fairly, while keeping prices affordable for consumers.
The Root Collective believes that each person has inherent dignity and that workers should be treated with fairness and paid a living wage.
Their shoe and textile makers are from tough communities, where jobs are scarce, and safety is questionable. Their shoemakers live in the slum of La Limonada in Guatemala, where gang violence is common and widespread. Their master shoemaker, Otto, and former gang member himself, understands the cultural complexities of gang life and how difficult it can be to escape. When you join a gang (which tend to prey on young children who are really only looking for something resembling a family), they tattoo you on your face or neck, in all effects branding you as a gang member. Living in La Limonada can already mean that no one will hire you, and as a branded gang member, your chances of finding a job are almost nonexistent. With their partnership with Otto, they’re looking to change that. So many men are looking to escape the gangs but cannot find a job. Otto’s business plan is to train and hire former gang members, or to employ the younger men before they join the gangs.