I’m currently walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain and have spent an extensive period of time focusing on my tired feet day after day. Walking 15-20 miles a day has given me plenty of time to do some thinking, brainstorming, reflecting and reminiscing. Thinking about why I agreed to do this walk, brainstorming ways to improve and expand upon RoHo, reflecting and reminiscing on the journey—both the Camino itself and RoHo and its humble beginnings. (Note: we are still in our humble beginnings). While I’m not wearing them on this journey, I keep coming back to my favorite pair of RoHos, the pair of shoes that started it all.
As you may have read the story from a previous post, I met Lydia, our supplier while doing research in Uganda after my junior year in college. But our story started a year earlier when I purchased a pair of shoes that she sold to a local woman selling crafts. I was walking through a craft market in Uganda and came across shoes that can only be described as works of art. I bought a pair for myself, today’s Amani style, and for my mom I bought a pair that looks similar to the Maua style.
I purchased that pair of shoes that started everything almost five years ago. And I still wear them weekly at least. By now the rubber soles are far flatter, my foot imprinted in the softened leather and blackened from hundreds of miles of walking. And yet they still sparkle in the sun and serve as a constant reminder about our slow, organic upbringing as a company.
It’s fun to reminisce about where they’ve been, where I’ve been since then and how far I’ve come. I wore that pair of shoes everyday in the warm spring in Evanston while desperately finishing my senior thesis, when I pitched the idea to RoHo to the Resolution Project for start-up funding, when living and working in Tanzania and Kenya on a fellowship with the International Rescue Committee, working at the Impact Hub in Santa Barbara, and on every sales meeting and pitch. The shoes have served as a support through it all. And I expect they’ll be with me for another five.