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?