Cano is a footwear brand that works to connect the makers and buyers of fashion. They do this by providing transparent services, fair wages, and sustainable products. Philipp and Lukas founded the company after studying abroad in Mexico. From then on they decided to craft their footwear after the traditional Mexican Huarache designs. Learn more about Cano in the interview below.
What drove you to start your business?
The idea to start our own shoe business came to our minds on a study exchange in Mexico, when we stumbled upon those beautifully handcrafted leather sandals. Before finding out about huaraches, I was always stuck in a dilemma during summer. Do I want to look nice today and slip on my Italian loafers or do I want to be comfy and wear some sandals? For us men, there was no real alternative to be chic and comfortable at the same time and with CANO we wanted to fill this gap. Our huaraches are very versatile – they can be worn with a suit on your wedding day just as well as with shorts on the beach.
Who are your employees or your artisans?
We are working together with two workshops – one in Sahuayo where the huaraches are produced and one in Leon for the mules, sandals, and boots. Most of our artisans come from families that have been working in shoe manufacturing for generations. You can learn more about them here: https://thecanoshoe.com/our-artisans/
How did you find them?
When we started CANO, we traveled across Mexico with the quest to find the best huarache artisans. So we went to different markets and asked around to find out where the huaraches have been produced. After many recommendations, we visited various workshops and also artisans at their homes until we found Sebastian, who runs a small workshop in Sahuayo, Michoacán.
What do they mean to you?
We believe that our artisans behind are the true heroes. Without their outstanding craftsman skills, we wouldn’t be able to produce our CANOs. This is why they are the ones that should get the credit for the beautiful shoes that we get to wear. Therefore, it is important for us to introduce our artisans to our customers and make sure that they are paid fairly for the blood, sweat, and tears they’ve put into making our CANOs.
What made you decide to start producing ethically?
For us, it is common sense to treat people the way you want to be treated. Therefore, fair working conditions have been the core of our business right from the start. Apart from that we are actually friends with our artisans and want them to be able to enjoy their lives to the fullest.
What impact has your business had on your community?
This is quite hard to measure but we are currently working on a program to support our artisans’ children. We want them to be able to follow their dreams and get the best education possible.
What was the most difficult part of starting and running your business?
Figure out the sizing. Since Lukas and I studied business and had no prior experience in the shoe industry, we struggled a lot to get the sizing right. But we eventually managed to improve the shoe lasts and have shoes now that are not only beautiful but also fit perfectly.
What has been the most rewarding outcome of your business?
Probably being welcomed by our artisans with joyful faces and warm hugs every time we walk into the workshop.
What is your company’s mission?
Our mission is to reconnect the consumer with the maker. Back in the day, you knew the cobbler that crafted your shoes or the tailor that sewed your suit. We want to bring this back and make the consumer remember that there are people behind every product that we wear.