Naguisa is an example of the beauty of behind artisanry and the beauty behind the creative process, from beginning to end.
Claudia Pérez (Salamanca, 1983) and Pablo Izquierdo (Salamanca, 1983) came together for the first time in 2011 to build their dream, Naguisa after starting out in completely different fields. Claudia started off in Industrial Design and Pablo has a degree in Architecture before deciding to leave behind the structures and blueprints for the world of footwear.
Together, they seem to have reinvented the concept of footwear and how it fits into the world of fashion. Using traditional materials they’ve invented a shoe that is both practical and combinable. Claudia and Pablo have made it clear that creativity has no limits and that with the right mindset, hard work and effort, anything is possible.
SO CATCHY!: For those who don’t know you, what is Naguisa?
PABLO IZQUIERDO: Naguisa is a footwear company that started in 2012 with the goal of bringing jute-soled shoes, often called espadrilles or rope soled sandals, to a public who might not be aware of them and how comfortable they are.
SC!: You’re both professionals from different professions, what gave you the push to leave your jobs for this project?
CLAUDIA PÉREZ: Our main motivation came from our desire to work for ourselves, at the time we were both working for other companies, and our passion for shoes.
SC!: Can you tell us more about how you got to where you are today? What difficulties and challenges did you find along the way and how did you overcome them?
PI: Naguisa got its start during our 2011 summer holidays, in a small apartment in Barcelona. We decided to design and make prototypes for a small collection of espadrilles using our training from a workshop in artisanal footwear that we’d done. A year later, we left our jobs and set out on the adventure that we call Naguisa.
CP: In the beginning we were completely unknown which made knocking on a lot of different doors quite an adventure. We’ve travelled a lot to achieve our goals, along the way we’ve picked up everything we need and met friendly people who are willing to help, and some who weren’t interested at all and slammed the door in our faces.
One of our biggest challenges was presenting the collection in the Who’s Next fair in July, 2012. We didn’t know what was going to happen, what people would think, if the product would work and little by little we’ve opened up a niche in the market.
SC!: How would you define Naguisa?
PI: We don’t like to classify ourselves as having one style or specific esthetic. When it comes to design, we focus mainly on looking for materials and figuring out how we can use them.
SC: Tell us a bit about your creative process: who designs what and how, materials, etc.
CP: We both work on the design, I do more of the first stages, inspiration, references or supplies while Pablo works on the technical and development side. We find inspiration in our environment, travel, tiny details in other products that aren’t related to fashion at all like furniture or instruments.
PI: We love to work with different materials and textures, and to physically work with the different elements; that helps with the inspiration as well. In most cases, we develop a prototype model in our workshop and with that we go to the factory to work on developing sample pieces.
SC!: Naguisa is intimately related to the Spartan look, although you also use other materials for the soles, are you going to continue along this line?
CP: We always work with natural materials; they all behave differently. That’s why we use jute and other materials like cork or wood. For now, we want to keep working with jute together with inserts. We’re also open to making different types of shoes based on cork or wood.
SC!: In your opinion, what are the benefits of the Marca España, or Made in Spain brand?
PI: In the world of footwear, the Marca España is well recognized and valued. Spain is one of the global references for the production of espadrilles. The quality of the handmade products is second to none.
SC!: what kinds of people buy your shoes?
CP: If you’re talking about who wears our shoes, the typical Naguisa client doesn’t have a specific age or profile that we can talk about, and we like that. We design our shoes because we like them and we identify with them. That’s how we reach people who have a similar sense of taste.
SC!: Where do you sell most of your shoes?
PI: We sell our shoes in clothing stores and upper midrange shoe stores. Right now we have clients in Spain, France, Italy, the UK, Belgium, Russia, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the US and Canada.
SC!: What was your experience at Akademie Mode & Design Berlin (AMD) like?
CP: It was an enriching experience, both personally and professionally. It all started when we were showing in Paris. Antje Drinkuth, who teaches at the AMD Akademie Mode & Design in Berlin, met us and invited us to participate in the workshops that the school has at the beginning of each semester and since then we’ve offered classes on espadrille production. You can see some of our students’ work here.
SC!: We know that you’ve worked with different houses that are also starting up. What do you think about working with other entrepreneurs?
PI: We felt personally driven to work with other houses. We like to meet and share things we like with professionals from different disciplines. We look at it as a form of exercise. If it works out, we create synergy and we end up knowing more about other people.
SC!: Where do you think Naguisa will be in a few years?
CP: That is yet to be seen. We’d like to take it slow, grow little by little so we can keep it under control. We would like to increase the number of places where you can find it and for Naguisa to be present in nice shops around the world.
SC!: You could say that you’ve already achieved your dream. Is there anything else that you’d like to do?
PI: We’ve achieved a part of our dreams but there’s still a long road ahead of us, and new things to discover!
CP: There are new projects that come up from time to time, we’ll let you know.
SC!: A person or designer that inspires you?
CP: Sonia Delaunay, painter and designer from the beginning of the 20th century.
SC!: What advice would you give to entrepreneurs such as yourselves who have a dream and a good idea?
PI: To go for it, without a doubt and without fear. Hope and hard work fulfill many dreams.
SC!: What kind of shoes do you wear?
CP: Truthfully, we wear all kinds of shoes, ours as well as others. As long as they are comfortable, made of quality material and Made in Spain.
Photos courtesy of Naguisa
Layout and translation by Michael Padilla
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