Welcome to Grown's 'Meet the Creative' series. We work with so many incredibly talented creators and makers, so this is a series dedicated to celebrating the vibrancy of the creators that surround us here at Grown. So, let's get to know them.
Today we talk to Natalia and Aleks, the founders of Piccolini shoes. We love Piccolini Shoes here at Grown. We love to work with them whenever we can as our brand ethos and values are so closely aligned. Piccolini was founded in 2020 by two sisters. Aleks is a footwear designer and Natalia a Chiropractor, to forces who are striving to be at the forefront of innovation and sustainability when it comes to kids shoes! Our shoe designer kindred spirits, like us, ensure quality and comfort without sacrificing our planet and use 100% certified organic cotton.
Natalia distinctly remembers walking through Melbourne with Aleks and looking at this shop which had kids shoes on display and I said to her sister - why do kids shoes that are labelled as ‘good for kids feet’ have to be so daggy...? So, the idea stemmed from that moment of "we can do better!" Piccolini launched in 2020, Natalia was pregnant with her first baby and still working as a Chiropractor, while Aleks had just returned from living in Florence and was working for a large footwear company.
Tell us how it started? How did the concept of Piccolini shoes come to life?
From the beginning we knew that we wanted it to be simple; good quality shoes, made from environmentally responsible materials, ethically made and at the lowest price possible. Our idea was to have a core range that wasn’t seasonal, while adding limited edition options bi-annually. It was so helpful that Aleks already had the contacts for the factory, material suppliers and pretty much everything that comes with the development of our shoes. There was lots of trial and error, and our loyal customers, who have been with us from day one, would remember our initial hurdles. We ordered our first 1000 pair order, quickly learnt that vegan glue would not withstand the wear and tear of kids, so had to go back to the drawing board and put out a recall for our first drop. We had a very supportive agent who helped us in launching our Piccolini shoes which we know and love today (with reinforced Velcro straps).
We share so many of the same beliefs as a brand in regards to using 100% certified organic cotton that is kind to the planet, unisex in design and ultimately - cool but comfortable pieces for kids, why are these elements so important to you both?
Aleks has always been particularly passionate about the environment, especially seeing first hand just how much fashion attributes to pollution and waste. We believe that natural fibres are better for our environment and the health of our little ones, hence our decision to use only organic materials. So much is starting to come out about microplastics in clothing affecting our health, which is obviously so important when dealing with children. Every choice we make with our shoes, we make sure we are conscious of these beliefs.
On the topic of environmentally friendly, you have just launched your Limited Edition range of Apple Leather sneakers - we are so excited about these here at Grown. Tell us more, how did you make these so eco-friendly?
Aleks actually visited the North of Italy where this material is made when we were talking about finding an eco-leather. It’s amazing how innovative they are. The North of Italy is known for their apple orchards and massive juicing industry, they developed this leather from the apple waste that is left over from juicing (skins/core/pulp). Our leather in particular, is made from over 30% of this apple waste, and 40% from other recycled bio materials.
Piccolini Shoes is the first footwear company in Australia to produce kids shoes out of this material and we are so excited to finally have launched with them!
If you had to choose, could you both choose a favourite Piccolini design that you have created so far? That's a hard one we know ;)
This is a tough one! We would say the yellow has been our favourite, the colour is so bold and we love how it wears over time also. In saying this, we have a collaboration coming out later this year which just might trump it!
Lastly, what's your favourite part of doing what you do for the brand you have created?
Easily the best part of the job is being able to work and build a company together as sisters. It definitely doesn’t come without its challenges, but what an incredible opportunity we have to share this passion and have each other’s support along the way. Close second would be our customers. Every DM and email we get from parents and grandparents, sharing their love of our products makes our day! It will never get old seeing kids walking down the street in our shoes. It’s a real pinch me moment. The lows of running this small Aussie business is tough, but the highs of knowing our products are loved make it all worth it.
6月 11、2024 — Olivia Cook