We’re excited to finally introduce the new caramel t-strap sandals. We’ve been testing the wear of the leather here in Uganda for almost a year now, and this new color is a clear favorite among our staff.
The team of women in our Uganda workshop are starting the year off as t-strap making experts, but Joyce remembers last year, when things weren’t so easy. She recalls how much they struggled with figuring out which direction the ankle straps should point, but now, putting the ankle straps into the sandals is a piece of cake.
There are a lot of steps involved in the making of this sandal, even before the materials hit the workshop floor. Aggie and our management team try their best to make sure as many materials as possible (like leather, foam fill, and rubber) are sourced in east Africa, bringing more jobs to the regional economy.
Once the materials are checked for quality, we get to work cutting the leather, rubber, and fill on a clicker press, using die cuts for each different size and shape. Here, Matilda cuts heels for the caramel t-strap.
After the pieces are cut, there is a lot of assembly work to do, like gluing the leather to the fill, piecing together the leather straps, and sewing in the metal “eyes” that the accents attach to.
Before the assembled straps are attached to the soles of the shoes, each piece is carefully sanded and finished. This job is surprisingly fun, but it kicks up a lot of dust, so the women have become rather creative with their hair protection methods.
When all the pieces are ready, they are bonded together with a strong adhesive, assembled, and hammered to make sure they are firmly connected. After a trip to the finishing machine to sand the edges of the soles, they are inspected for quality and lined up to wait for their boxes, which are manufactured and printed locally, for shipment.
On the other side of the workshop, the accessories team keeps busy hand-beading the colorful accents.
After cutting the leather, they stitch metal hooks to one piece, and carefully add bright beads to another. Those pieces are glued together, then sanded and finished with a coating of beeswax from a local honey farm.
Every Sseko t-strap sandal is the product of an impressive amount of team-work and talent, and carries with it the stories of each of the hands that it passed through on the way to you.