This past year at the Sseko workshop, things have been busy with the introduction of the new t-strap sandals and a lot of growth. Instead of colorful ribbon straps, these sandals come with carefully hand-beaded accessories, and a whole lot more steps in assembly. This has dramatically changed the way we work, and most days we’re less focused on individual teams and more on Sseko as a whole. The women have learned to be flexible because some days our talented seamstresses find themselves assembling leather sandal straps, or our most expert beaders head over to the other side of the workshop to help iron sandal ribbons. While everyone has amazed us with their positive attitudes and a willingness to learn new things, they each definitely have their favorite workstation.
Florence loves to use the finishing machine. This big, intimidating machine sits at the corner of the workshop near a door and a ventilator, and is one of the last stops for ribbon sandals and t-straps. It’s used to sand the edges of the sandals, to remove any excess glue and make sure the edges are smooth and even. Florence says that machine was scary at first, but she learned in a month. Now she’s the resident expert.
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.
Each shoe in our new Footwear Collection is exquisitely crafted by Ethiopian shoe artisans from leather sourced through local family farmers. In addition to sustainably supporting the local economy and creating jobs in East Africa, 10% of proceeds from this collection go towards the Sseko Scholarship Fund to educate and empower women.
Here is a peek at the process behind the new collection!
We recently launched a new T-strap sandal in collaboration with The Giving Keys, and it’s something we at Team Sseko are super excited about. The Giving Keys is an LA-based organization that employs those transitioning out of homelessness to make jewelry out of repurposed keys that get sold and shared around the world. Our T-Strap + their Giving Key on our interchangeable accent is a powerful combination.
From the stamping of the keys with the word ‘DREAM’ to the hand-stitched beading, these sandals require supreme craftsmanship…and we could not be more thankful to the women (and men, in this case!) who work meticulously to bring the design to life. Here’s a little behind-the-scenes look at how the Giving Key sandals are made!