Footwear Plus MagazineShoesday Tuesdays - Sponsored by WSA  
Something about shoes must bring out the best in people—and not just sartorially speaking. From Toms to Soles4Souls, the footwear industry has often been on the forefront of helping those in need, so it's no surprise that more companies are finding a way to combine selling shoes with philanthropic endeavors. The most recent addition to that list is BucketFeet, a Chicago-based shoe company with the motto, "Buy a Shoe, Build a Community."
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A portion of the proceeds from the sale of BucketFeet's brightly-hued slip-ons goes to one of three children-focused non-profits: Magic (a stringed instrument program for kids in the Woodlawn community in the South Side of Chicago), (a program that devotes financial resources to help build more safe soccer fields around the world) and Children Mending Hearts (an organization that provides resources to arts programs and workshops for homeless children).

"The overall reaction has been amazingly positive from both the design aspect as well as what we are trying to do with our non-profit partners," says co-founder Aaron Firestein, who hand-drew the bold, graphic designs for every pair in the brand's first collection. Guest artists from around the globe will help design future shoes, he says. Currently, the shoes are sold exclusively through the brand's website, but Firestein is looking into pairing up with several wholesalers and distributors.

The idea for the brand came when Firestein met co-founder Raaja Nemani, a fellow volunteer, in an impoverished area of Buenos Aires in 2008. Firestein had been creating hand-painted shoes for his friends in college and sold one of the pairs to Nemani. When the two met up again in Chicago, they decided the time was right to bring Firestein's designs to a wider audience—with the added bonus of benefitting kids in need. "The mission of the brand is important because had Raaja and I not meet volunteering in Argentina, there would be no BucketFeet shoes as we know them," Firestein says. "We also think that because we are privileged in the grand scheme of things, that it really seems like the right thing to do. We have the right resources to help out; there's no excuse not to." —Audrey Goodson

Like Shoesday Tuesdays: BucketFeet Joins Growing List of Charitable Footwear Brands on Facebook


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