We are excited to introduce you to our latest and greatest sandal: the Silver & Espresso Crossover Slide designed by our friend & actress Sophia Bush! This Spring, we’ve introduced four brand-new additions to our sandal line, but the Crossover Slide is the most exciting for our team because it’s our first sandal to require a shoe last in the assembly process! We’ll give you a behind-the-scenes peak at how the sandal came to be, from Sophia’s design to the final production…
While hosting Sophia at our workshop in Uganda, we covered a lot of ground! We started with greetings and then shared lunch with our team, where they asked her all kinds of questions about her career path, future goals and greatest insecurities and fears. (HA! They leave no stone unturned. They’re bold & curious and we adore them for it!)
We then spent some time giving Sophia a tour of the workshop and showing her the step by step process each product goes through as it is transformed from raw materials to the end product that you know as Sseko!
Then, we got to dreaming. We camped out in our design corner and started trying to narrow down the possibilities of what we could design together. Bags?! Accents?! Shoes?! Small Leather goods?! We spread out materials, inspiration and sketches across a big draft table and starting playing around with leather combinations on bags when…
Sophia looked down for a moment and then dramatically stopped in her tracks.
“Excuse me. WHAT ARE THOSE?” she said pointing down at my sandals.
I was sporting our Gold & Caramel Crossover sandals.
“Um. I need those.”
I told her that I was simply wear-testing the sandals and that they wouldn’t launch into the universe for many more months. She insisted that she could be patient and we got to work on how to give these sassy slides a touch of Sophia.
We landed on combining Sophia’s current love affair with silver with our classic Espresso-hued sandal leather to create a chic and edgy take on the Crossover Sandal.
After a few trips to Kenya to work with our leather supplier to perfect the dreamiest shade and sheen of silver leather, we go to work sampling these beauties…and we must say…we’re in love!
For the team, these new crossover sandals (& our other new styles!) have meant many changes in a quick amount of time…but the team has only grown stronger and more skilled as a result.
“Comparing Sseko- where it’s been and how it is now- there is a big, tremendous growth,” says Agnes, our procurement manager. She remembers purchasing our materials in downtown Kampala through middle-men that imported goods from Kenya. Now, we order materials directly from the manufacturers- from leather to rubber and everything in between. This gives us a chance to weigh in on quality and color in ways we haven’t been able to before. The beautiful caramel leather in the straps of our new sandals, for example, is much softer and of higher quality than what we once used.
Joyce oversees sandal assembly, and laughs when she remembers how intimidating the lasts were. At first, they seemed heavy and difficult to hold, “our hands are small!” she explains. Joyce was first to master the new tool, though, and now counts them as invaluable. They make it much easier to assemble sandals consistently each time.
Dorothy now works with our production manager and oversees each team. She’s amazed to see how quickly they’ve learned to work together and be flexible. As we grow, it makes more sense to have each woman become an expert in many things, rather than specializing in just one task. One day someone might find herself beading sandal accents, the next day she may be using a heat stamp to press our logo onto the sandals themselves. This takes extra hard work and skill, but adds a lot of variety to the workweek.
Though our new class of university bound women hasn’t been around to see most of the changes, they’ve seen a lot of changes in themselves. Brenda never imagined she’d get the hang of sandal assembly. “I thought it was very difficult at the beginning, I thought I couldn’t manage. But people around me are helping me to learn to make shoes.” Brenda hopes to be a weather forecaster one day, and is sure to apply this lesson in perseverance to her future studies. “If you focus and you put hands on it,” she explains, “nothing is impossible. Everything is possible if you try it.”
We’re excited to see how much we’ve grown and changed, but perhaps no one is more thrilled than Aunt Jenifer, whose joy in her work is evident every step of the way. She lists off each type of new sandal with a grin, and explains, “I’m really very happy about it, and I’m proud. We are learning so many things!”
We can’t thank Sophia Bush enough for coming to visit Sseko Uganda–and we hope that you love her new sandal as much as we do!