In our continued recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re sharing the work and stories of the many inspiring entrepreneurs from the Latino community on Faire. Last week, we spoke with Angie Quintanilla Coates, founder of art and illustration shop Five15 Creative.
Today, we’re highlighting Piccolo Shoes—a children’s shoe company based out of El Paso, Texas. Piccolo Shoes sells handcrafted leather shoes, all made by shoemakers in Guanajuato, Mexico. We spoke with founder and owner Nydia Orosco about filling a gap in the shoe market, handcrafting shoes in Mexico, and what it means to be a family-owned and operated business.
The search for quality leather shoes
In 2018, Nydia was on the hunt for quality, long-lasting leather shoes for her young son and daughter. When her lengthy search revealed options that were either too expensive or lacking in style, a frustrated Nydia began wondering how she could fill this clear gap in the market. It was on a trip to her husband’s hometown of Guanajuato, Mexico that Nydia got her answer. Her brother-in-law—the owner of a shoemaking business in the city—introduced her to the shoemaking traditions of Guanajuato, and from there, the concept for Piccolo Shoes was born.
Today, Piccolo Shoes sources all their leather from local markets in Guanajuato, and with the help of her brother-in-law’s business, Nydia has been able to find craftsmen in the city to help with the manufacturing of the shoes. She and her husband take frequent trips to the region to oversee the production of the product and pick out leather from local markets.
“Guanajuato is the mecca of shoemaking,” Nydia said, “And we have people involved in every step of the process.” Artisans in Guanajuato bring the designs to life by hand-cutting pieces of leather, dying them in custom colors, and making the soles of the shoes. “It’s incredible to see how much work goes into it, from the moment of an idea to the execution,” she said.
After over 3 years in business, Piccolo Shoes has attained a loyal following of customers who swear by the carefully crafted leather shoes and boots for their children. The shoes have even been featured on the cover of Parents magazine, where actress Hilary Duff posed with her children wearing their own pairs of Piccolo Shoes. With the recent venture in wholesale upon joining Faire in 2020, Nydia hopes the company will continue to grow.
All in the family
As the first person in her immediate family to enter the world of retail, Nydia had to learn everything about running a business from the ground up. “I didn’t have any retail experience,” she said. “My background is in the medical field, so it was an unexpected move.” Nydia has singlehandedly taught herself how to navigate every aspect of business ownership, from learning the ins and outs of importing and exporting products from Mexico to figuring out how to market her online-only brand using social media. “I’m the photographer and the accountant, and I do the marketing,” she said. “I’ve had to learn everything along the way.”
Though Nydia operates most of the business herself, she enlists the help of her family for smaller day-to-day tasks. Her daughter is often the model seen in most of Piccolo Shoes’ photography, and her husband packages orders at their kitchen table. “It really is a family business to its core,” she said. “It’s a labor of love from all of us.”
It’s that labor of love that makes the support of her customers even more meaningful, and Nydia cites feedback from buyers as one of her favorite aspects of business ownership. “It’s so fulfilling when a customer takes the time to let you know how much they love your products,” she said. “It reinforces that we are doing something good and gives me the motivation to keep going.”
Supporting Latino-owned businesses
For Nydia, Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to remind people of the world beyond their own communities. “This month accentuates and highlights the importance of being aware that there are so many other communities that exist,” she said. It’s also a chance to diversify the brands consumers shop from. “A lot of times we fall into the rut of just shopping from where we normally shop. It takes just that little extra effort to expand and find new businesses.” Nydia emphasizes that even that small effort can make a huge difference. Aside from shopping, she also recommends supporting Latino-owned businesses by engaging with them on social media and sharing them with your friends to help them gain exposure.
Nydia hopes that her business can serve as an example to any hopeful entrepreneurs in the Latino community. “More than anything, I would advise people to not limit themselves. Don’t listen to people around you that say it can’t be done. If you have an idea and the drive to do it, then just do it.” She also says not to be discouraged if progress takes time. “You might not become some multimillionaire, but the process itself can be so rewarding and fulfilling. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
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