Ethical retailer Adelante Shoe Co. connects customers with Guatemalan cobblers

While footwear brands Tom’s and Allbirds are taking strides in ethical retailing, there’s a new kid on the block, embracing social enterprise to the full.

Adelante Shoe Co., the Boston-based made-to-order footwear company, is ‘purpose-driven’ through and through. The startup has an agenda to support skilled cobblers in Guatemala, and help raise living standards in these supplier communities. We’re impressed how this retailer is using web technology to bring customers and craftsmen closer together.

The company’s stated mission is to sell connective products and experiences to fund sustainable economic development in Latin America.

It uses digital channels to connect more closely with the shoemaking process, and engage its customers in the lives of the people who make their loafers and sandals. Head to to browse shoes and boots, and you will be experientially connected to ‘your craftsman’ – a relationship that continues from point of sale to shoe delivery.

Adelante Shoe Co.Decent work leads to economic growth

Adelante Shoe Co. works with skilled craftsmen in Guatemala to hand make high-quality leather shoes that are made-to-order and delivered within 10 days of purchase.

The company has embraced the spirit of ‘profit with principles’ first mooted by The Body Shop’s Anita Roddick in the 1980s. It has created a new social impact model called the Living Well Line to define the relative cost of living well in the town where the craftsmen work.

Adelante craftsmen earn 75% above the market rate, which means access to healthcare, education, nutritious food, and more for themselves and their families.

Social enterprise in retail

“At Adelante Shoe Co. our mission is to redefine the craft shoe experience by connecting our customers directly with the craftsman whose life they are impacting,” said Peter Sacco, Adelante CEO and Founder. “I am excited that our website further advances that mission and positions us to take the cobbler-to-customer experience to the next level.”

How does web video engage customers?

Adelante Shoe Co. connects the customer with their craftsman via photo and video throughout the production process, while also communicating the positive impact of their purchase.

The new website deepens the cobbler-to-customer connection with multiple touch points, including:

  • When an order is placed, the order confirmation number assigns a specific craftsman to the respective order.
  • A “Meet Your Craftsman” email is sent that introduces the customer to their craftsman.
  • A subsequent email is sent with a link to a video showing the craftsman making the customer’s shoes and delivering a personalized “thank you” directly to the customer for their purchase.
  • When the customer receives their shoes, an Adelante Shoe Co. “Our Story” booklet is included with a full craftsman bio and an explanation of the impact of the customer’s purchase.
  • Finally, every shoe is personally signed on the inside by the craftsman who made it.

There is much for retailers to learn here, as purpose driven business is increasingly of interest to investors. There’s also evidence that younger consumers are drawn to brands that demonstrate ethical and sustainable values.

Adelante’s 2018 Impact Report sets out the company’s strategy to directly and indirectly impact lives and the economy in Guatemala, with a focus on ‘Impact Measurement’.

Adelante Shoe Co. background

The mission-driven start-up raised over $65,000 through a Kickstarter campaign in 2016 and started selling shoes in May of 2017.

The company now has over $200K in revenue and growing. Adelante Shoes are also fit, style, and colour customisable and prices range from $205 – $285.

Find Adelante Shoe Co.’s 2018 Impact Report here.


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