BYU student creates ‘classy casual’ shoes with social mission

BYU student creates ‘classy casual’ shoes with social mission

(Courtesy of Bryce Herman)

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PROVO — After receiving numerous compliments on his custom-made “classy casual” shoes, a Provo entrepreneur decided to create a business while also benefiting a local Nicaraguan shoemaker.

Brigham Young University student Bryce Herman said he interned in Mexico with nonprofit Academy for Creating Enterprise and was inspired to start his own nonprofit in Nicaragua in 2012. As a business student, he wanted to teach local Nicaraguan business owners skills to grow their businesses.

“A lot of (people) have their own businesses and so it’s how to help them grow,” Herman said. “Because a lot of them are necessity entrepreneurs. In other words, they are entrepreneurs because they have to, but they don’t have the vision to be prosperous. They just do whatever they need to to get by. So I try to help them with knowing how to grow their businesses.”

While in Nicaragua, Herman said he wanted a more professional looking but comfortable shoe, so he commissioned a Nicaraguan shoemaker to make “classy casual” shoes for him.

“The real thing is that I’m getting older and I wanted to start looking better and more mature, I guess,” Herman said. “But I didn't want to wear slacks. I could find the clothes to make that sort of (look,) but I couldn’t find the shoes for it.”

Herman said when he returned to the U.S., he received a lot of comments and compliments on his shoes and he decided “to make it a business.” Herman launched Tuani Shoes in January 2014 by getting feedback about the shoes on Facebook.

He continued working with the Nicaraguan cobbler, Jairo, and began selling the shoes online. However, he realized because the shoes were custom-made by hand in a small shop, the process for ordering, making and shipping was very slow. As a result, Herman recently launched a Kickstarter campaign* to help streamline the process and build up more inventory.

Tuani Shoes are ankle high and made of leather with thin leather soles. The formal-meets-casual shoes have a minimalist design and are durable for extended use, according to the Kickstarter page.

Herman said he enjoys doing nonprofit work and wants to continue it when he graduates from BYU in April. He also hopes Tuani Shoes will continue to grow so it can support Jairo and increase jobs for Nicaraguan locals.

“One of the ultimate ideas is that it will grow to where we can hire a lot more employees,” he said. “It’s not just for profit only, but also has the social impact of creating employment there. … Shoes that are classy and casual and then have a social mission too. That really sums it all up.”

* has not verified the accuracy of the information provided with respect to the account nor does assure that the monies deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.


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