The Root Collective: Walking out Vision in Deeply-Rooted Shoes
Bethany Tran, Founder and CEO of The Root Collective (TRC), wasn’t planning on using shoes to make a difference in the slums of La Limonada in Guatemala City.
She just saw a problem: a seemingly unbreakable cycle of poverty and gang culture in the slums, with no one doing anything to solve it. In La Limonada, boys are often primed for gangs when they are young--sometimes younger than 10 years old--and it is almost impossible to leave a gang once you have joined. When she visited La Limonada, she realized there were many great nonprofits working for education, but there weren’t many opportunities for employment upon graduation. Without jobs, nothing could really change.
Instead of waiting for somebody else to do something to meet the need for jobs in this area, she realized she was somebody who could do something. “If not me, then who?” Bethany said.
Shoes weren’t on her radar, but when she asked her friend, the executive director of the nonprofit organization Lemonade International, what she could do to help, they had just connected with a shoemaker named Otto. Shoemaking provides jobs to keep boys out of gangs, or as a means of living when they decide they want to leave their gang. Because members are branded with a tattoo of the gang they joined, finding a job can be extremely difficult.
Shoemaking provides jobs to keep boys out of gangs, or as a means of living when they decide they want to leave their gang.
A partnership was formed with Otto and The Root Collective was born out of that partnership. TRC is a company whose mission it is to ethically support artisans and provide jobs to those who may not have job opportunities otherwise. They work with Otto’s shoemaking workshop and two others, as well as weaving cooperatives, where fabrics for the shoes are hand weaved.
When buying a product, Bethany likes to ask herself, “I know how much this cost me, but do I know how much it cost the person who made it?” It can be easy to purchase something fast and cheap, but putting your money behind your values is empowering. “How you spend your money determines the kind of world that you want to live in.”
Women are in charge of 85% of a household’s spending and have the power to change the world by changing how and where they spend their money. Instead of going to the mall and buying a pair of flats or some new ankle booties, women can order high-quality shoes from TRC and support their mission and artisans like Otto.
Women are in charge of 85% of a household’s spending and have the power to change the world by changing how and where they spend their money.
When you buy a pair of shoes or an accessory from The Root Collective, you are helping a man provide for his family, empowering a woman, and keeping a teen out of a gang. You are helping purchase freedom for someone.
Just like Dressember is bigger than a dress, The Root Collective is more than a cute pair of shoes or a pretty necklace. It’s about creating a world where freedom is possible for everyone.
You can shop Root Collective by following their linked logo below. You can try their handcrafted shoes risk-free & get 15% off by signing up for their newsletter.
You don't have to wait until December to be a part of the impact. Join the Dressember Collective and become part of a powerful community of advocates and donors furthering the work and impact of the Dressember Foundation through monthly giving.
About the Author
Austyn McAnarney is a wife and mom living in Springfield, Missouri. She is studying literature and creative writing at Missouri State University. In her free time, Austyn enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with her family and their dog, Axle.