My Favorite Shoes (Not Made In China)

Lamar Hawkins, Owner/CEO of NAO do Brazil — Zurich

When I was traveling through Switzerland last fall, I stumbled upon a new Brazilian shoe store in Zurich called NAO do Brazil. I felt a refreshing energy as I walked through the door of the shop that reminded me why I love traveling so much. I was an American in Zurich, shopping at a store selling shoes made in Brazil, from a company owned by a Frenchman. I was given a tour of the shop by the location’s owner, Lamar Hawkins, an African American man from Austin Texas, and the store manager who hailed from England.

Every pair of shoes NAO sells is handmade, each size with its own one-of-a-kind exotic design. If you buy a pair of NAO shoes in the shoe size 44 (U.S. size 11) there will not be another pair with that exact same design in a size 43, and likely there are only a few pairs of the exact same design/size in one shop. NAO shoes are made of 75 percent recycled material, with the soles composed of recycled bottle tops and rubber, making them so flexible they feel like socks. They cost from around $65 to $85, depending on the materials used, to me not an outrageous price for comfortable hand-sewn shoes that are this flamboyant and cool. Lamar also made a point of assuring me that the Brazilian shoe makers receive a fair wage for their labor.

NAO currently has 20 stores spread throughout Europe (one in Dubai) but no stores actually in Brazil. Lamar said the company was going to open its first U.S. store in Miami soon.

Check out the video below in which Lamar explains the process of making one pair of NAO shoes.

Question: Is the current minimum wage fair?


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19 thoughts on “My Favorite Shoes (Not Made In China)

  1. Jeffrey Scott

    Is the minimum wage fair? Is the government mandating what an employer MUST pay someone fair? If some of you liberal Mao-Bama lovers don’t like the current minimum wage then PAY YOUR EMPLOYEE’S MORE…..there that was a simple fix wasn’t it? After listening to Obama’s “State of his Illusion” speech I’d say we need some simple solutions that don’t involve government spending money we don’t have since everything Obama and his liberals want to do costs billions upon billions to implement!

  2. Vicki

    I think it’s fair. I don’t think that minimum wage was ever designed to support someone, much less a family. The domino effect of raisiing the minimum wage extends all the way up and right back down again. Business owners will either raise prices or hire fewer people. Hamburgers, carwashes, groceries, Walmart, will cost more. The people that most need low prices will be least likely to afford the higher prices.

    If minimum wage goes up, then it stands to reason that unemployment “wages” will go up next. Other wise, it’s even less “worth their time” to look for a job.

  3. JOL

    Would you be able to survive on the current $7.25 federal Min wage? Your life would be vastly different if your paycheck before taxes on a 40 hour week amounted to $290.00.

    This link is verified with the Dept Of Commerce as recent as 12/15/12

    Question: Total Number of U.S. States where Welfare pays more than an $8 per hour job
    Answer: 40

    Question: Number of U.S. States where Welfare pays more than a $12 per hour job
    Answer: 7

    Question: Number of U.S. States where Welfare pays more than the average salary of a U.S. teacher
    Answer: 9

    Top 10 Hourly Wage Equivalent Welfare States in U.S. State Hourly Wage Equivalent
    Hawaii $17.50
    Alaska $15.48
    Massachusetts $14.66
    Connecticut $14.23
    Washington, D.C. $13.99
    New York $13.13
    New Jersey $12.55
    Rhode Island $12.55
    California $11.59
    Virginia $11.11

    So if I have to work for minimum wage and ‘pay into the system’ I would make less than a person collecting welfare in 40 different states? Wonder why we see high unemployment and people taking money for goverment assistance – it is easier than working

  4. Jim Goerges

    Yes it is fair. Should employers pay more? Maybe this isn’t the correct thinking. Should the consumer pay more? Maybe we should minimum wage be a livable wage? Is minimum wage designed for high school kids looking for summer employment or is it designed to be for supporting a family? Noah what is your take on these questions?
    Waiting your reply…Thanks!

  5. Val Zanchuk

    I prefer to let the market set the wage rates. In my state, New Hampshire, we have relatively low unemployment and unions are almost nonexistant in the private sector. The first one should drive wages up, and the second should drive them down. The fact is, for skilled workers, we need to pay well above any minimum wage rate to get good employees. In the hospitality industry, which is a big segment of the state’s economy and commonly subjected to minimum wage rates, it’s still hard to find employees, so its tough to offer minimum wage for these jobs as well. Arbitrarily setting a wage rate is like price controls; it completely ignores economic reality and has negative consequences far beyond the feeble thought process of the legislators who enact these laws.

  6. Ray Frattone

    The government has no place mandating anyone’s wages.It should keep it’s nose out of our business, especially when you consider the fact that they cannot budget their money,cannot pay their bills and they still spend more than a trillion dollars a year more than they take in.
    It is ludicrous that they should try to run our lives, especially our wages.

  7. Carter

    Fair has no role in wages or return on invested capital. Those who suppoprt the minimum wage should also support the government providing a minimum return on invested capital. Now that would be FAIR!

  8. Keith

    There is a very interesting site that I was made aware of just today. Find it here:
    Based upon census data, it shows, area by area, what the average income is locally. The minimum wage, while certainly not lavish, has different buying power depending upon the local cost of living. There are areas in the South where it could provide a survivable living. In Seattle or New York, it won’t buy a Happy Meal.
    Whether or not it’s the government’s role to dictate a minimum wage, there will always be those who want to get by with paying the absolute least they can. And there will be those desperate enough to accept it.

  9. Josh

    Well the minimum wage adjusted for inflation is less than it was in the 70’s. There’s definitely a problem here. I get a kick out of all you Obama hating jokers who scream for the government to stay out of our lives unless it’s something your party supports like the war on drugs, or revoking woman’s right to abort the child of her rapist or even acquire birth control or not allowing gay couples to have the same rights the rest of America has. Keep the government out of our lives…. unless it’s to make sure we get to teach intelligent design in schools and throw out evolution. Keep the government out of our lives….. but if our children don’t regurgitate the pledge of allegiance daily in school society will collapse! Keep the government out of our lives…. unless they’re passing a bill to ban gay marriage. Keep the government out of our lives…. unless they agree with me.

  10. Jeffrey Kopp

    Shame on you for going to Switzerland and not going to Bally shoes, they are the finest shoes I’ve ever had on my feet; haven’t bought a pair in twenty years, guess its a coincidence that my eldest child is twenty!

    As for the minimum wage I find it interesting that we are described as a free market yet the government can tell an employer what to pay his employees; raising the minimum wage will crush small business owners; I’d rather see a maximum wage, set to keep politicians, pro athletes and large corporate presidents from being grossly overpaid! What really steams me are the asswipes leading charities pulling in high six figure incomes, how do these people sleep at night? The answer is on silk sheets with a belly full of filet and caviar!

  11. Kelly

    Obama should make the minimum wage $50.00 per hour then every body could pay taxes.
    You should see the color of my Unicorn its pretty, what color is yours?

  12. Phil

    Fair? Fair?? What kind of a question is that? There should be NO minimum wage. A wage should be a mutually agreed upon amount solely between an employer and employee. If an employee wants more that the employer is willing to pay, then the employer will either keep looking until finding someone willing to work at that rate, or will have to reassess their wage offer. Let the market work. It’s how this country was founded. It’s how this country works. It’s the only way this country will continue to prosper.

  13. John "Jack" Frost

    Prior to the formation of the CIO there were no minimum wage laws. The AFL (Guild Unions) had production standards that guaranteed the employer an expected return on investment,(wages). Large manufacturing companies established production standards which were reasonable and acceptable ie: AT&T (Western Electric)Elgin Watch,General Electric. The depression and the concurrent appearance of Progressive politicians, the Ruether brothers trained in Russia and the industrial up-heaval during and after WWII set the stage for a world of freebies and the destruction middle class initiative. Yes we have had the dot. com bubble and rampant narcissism, but we have lost our will to create real wealth and thus one more entitlement known as the minimum wage. There are opportunities for great wealth, such as the invention of a super performing battery and the motors and generators to go along with this stored power. We waste billions on foreign scammers who produce nothing. The President promises to create a great middle class, this is similiar to the promise of great education guaranteed by bussing. Both promises are a come on, really a bait and switch, getting the 47 percent of the public to give up on GREATNESS. THE PROGRESSIVES HAVE SUCCESSFULLY DUMBED DOWN OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM, ALTHOUGH OCCASIONALLY YOU READ THAT UNION EXECUTIVES WITH INITIATIVE HAVE ROBBED THE UNION PIGGY BANK FOR MILLIONS FOR A LIFE STYLE THAT BEFITS THEIR POSITION AND THEN COMPLAIN AT THE LACK OF AMENITIES AT THE FEDERAL COUNTRY CLUBS. The question, is the minimum wage fair. Wrong question, it has nothing to do with wages which by definition are reimbursement for services rendered. When you give me the definition of an honest days work, I may be able to evaluate the fairness is this redistribution of disposable wealth.

  14. Jeff

    So, it seems that many of the respondants would pay their employees $1 per hour if they could. “I don’t want the government telling me what to pay my employees” they say. To them goverment involvement is only good when they benefit. They would also get rid of any unemployment assistance, welfare supports and workplace safety laws for individuals but not the tax breaks, investment tax credits, price support tarriffs that they enjoy. Their pay, of course, would be increased by the reduction in labor costs. I guess, to some, greed has no bounds. Maybe they are right. Maybe we should get the time-traveling Delorian and go back the the future of the early 1900’s when corporate giants ruled the world. Then again, we can be better than that. Maybe we should go back and listen to what a corporate giant, Henry Ford, reportedly said. “I pay my employees enough to buy the product they are building.” What’s wrong with helping ensure that the least among us can get pay to allow them to live a decent lifestyle?

  15. John "Jack" Frost

    No Jeff, we don’t want to cheat the employees of their honest earnings. The company wont last long with that policy. As managers and owners of companies we need to know the true cost of manufacture as a basis of competition. If the employee needs more to support a reasonable lifestyle, then let’s call that wellfare. A survey during the sit-ins/sleep-ins of Occupy (whatever)asked what the occupiers were most concerned with. The answers of the majority was “Job Benefits” not Jobs. With an attitude like that one can readily understand the complaints of the untrained and often unwashed. Ford opened the door to labor organization and labor taught the auto industry a lesson, they bankrupted it, while a progressive President was a participant in cheating the stakeholders out of their investment. No Jeff greed is not a major characteristic of hardworking wealth builders. Greed comes in many forms not the least of which is demanding something for nothing.

  16. Rand Paul Ryan

    I think we should let the free market dictate the minimum wage. After all, it worked in the 19th century, didn’t it? The only reason why the US is falling behind China is because the unwashed masses are demanding everything for nothing! The height of US industrialism was born out of dirt-rate wages, over-inhabited and unhygienic tenant houses, the labor of children (who, these days, are soft-bellied leeches who expect the world handed to them on a silver platter), and the back-breaking abuse of labor.

    Want to see the USA become great again? Do away with the liberal nonsense of “40 hour work weeks,” “8 hour work days”, “minimum wage”, “labor regulation”, “welfare”. We’ll teach the people of this country that they’re not better than their great-great-grandparents – who lived and died in the factories of this great nation. If you’re not willing to work for the terms the employers – the true job creators of this world – then you DESERVE to starve.

    I remember a dear friend of mine who approached me with concerns over her employer – he was apparently sexually harassing her. Well, I said, you can either quit your job or put up and shut up. She said she couldn’t quit – it was the only job on the market available to her, that without her income, her family of four would be on the streets. Then why don’t you complain, I asked. Surely your HR-deparment will take care of it? No, she answered. Her resume would be permanently tarnished because her boss is by far a more valuable asset to the company than her labor – easily replaceable by the masses in search of a job. And she couldn’t afford to take it to the authorities, because (1) she would have no means of funding any sort of legal support and (2), the authorities wouldn’t believe her anyways – not when her boss is a multi-millionaire, she’s just a member of the lower middle-class.

    I told her, then, that she had nothing to complain about. She has a job, which is more than can be said of the rest of the population out there. If you’re not willing to put yourself on the market, then you well better accept the consequences of your laziness.

    Obama and his liberal regime of Trotsky-Maoist-tsars have done all they could to destroy the fabric of this country. Employers are being exploited left and right! Who do you think provides the jobs? Who do you think provides the innovations? Employers! And who do you think mooches off the profits of the employers, who try to cheat the system through welfare and food stamps? Laborers? More like laze-er-ers.

    I say its time employers “strike” against this corrupt fascist dictatorship. Sick and tired of Barry’s BS? Take your money out of the banks, shut down your businesses, make them realize how helpless they are without you! The only good workforce is one that knows respect, that understands the order of things, that knows how to obey.


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