The word sustainability gets thrown around a lot. Some brands do the bare minimum.
But Nisolo was founded with sustainability at its core. Yes, they’re a shoe and boot brand, but from the very beginning the focus was on fair and equitable supply chains and showing the fashion industry how to look good without trashing the environment.
In fact, Nisolo even has a sustainability lead: someone who ensures that the brand is staying true to its mission of giving back and keeping its impact low.
His name is Matt Stockamp, and he was gracious enough to sit down and answer a few questions about Nisolo.
What is Nisolo?
I first heard of Nisolo a few years ago. A friend of mine told me to check them out because he was interested in their leathers.
It’s been about a year and a half and I’m still loving them—they’re better than ever.
But one of the things that pushed me to pick up a boot from Nisolo was their unique approach to sustainability. I wanted to learn more, so I reached out to the brand.
I was able to connect with Matt Stockamp, the Sustainability Lead of Nisolo to learn more about what drives the brand and what they have coming next.
Interview with the Sustainability Lead of Nisolo
Q: What is the inspiration behind Nisolo?
Nisolo is a Spanish word that translates to “neither they, nor we, are alone.” It’s a tribute to our interconnection with one another and the natural environment, and a deep conviction to create positive social and environmental impact as an organization for the benefit of the entire fashion industry.
Nisolo was started in 2011 with the purpose to connect shoemakers in Peru to the global market so that they could receive a living wage and provide for their dependents. We have since grown and evolved to embrace an even broader vision.
Rather than the fashion industry continuing on its destructive path, we believe it can become one of the world’s most powerful conduits for social and environmental progress. We envision the industry reversing its impact on climate change and becoming one of the most effective tools to help eradicate poverty within our lifetime.
Our inspiration is to use our influence to drive better practices across the fashion industry at large, thereby alleviating and solving some of the world’s most pressing issues–extreme poverty and climate change.
Q: What’s the biggest hurdle you’ve faced when aiming to keep the brand sustainable, but still maintain growth?
As a Certified B Corp, we’re committed to keeping social and environmental responsibility at the heart of our business as we grow.
Maintaining and enhancing our sustainability has required significant resources from both a time and finance perspective, so that’s been a hurdle, albeit one we’re happy to take on. We have a full time staff member dedicated to sustainability who spends their time measuring our social and environmental impact, and obtaining and maintaining 3rd party certifications.
Additional hurdles have been achieving 100% visibility of our supply chain and ensuring all of our partners in our supply chain meet and exceed our sustainability standards. As we grow, we’re committing more resources to vetting our suppliers and onboarding best in class factories as it pertains to social and environmental responsibility.
Q: What makes Nisolo different than other brands in the space?
We recognize that everything we make has an impact on people and the planet, and we’re committed to leveraging our business and influence as a means to uplift those stakeholders. That differentiates us from fast fashion brands, which (unfortunately) control the vast majority of the industry.
We’re also quite different from most “sustainable” brands though as well. Whereas most of these brands focus on People or Planet, we embrace a holistic approach to sustainability.
We pay 100% living wages to everyone in our Tier 1 factories, and guarantee 0% net carbon emissions by measuring, striving to reduce, and offsetting 100% of our carbon footprint.
Through our recently released Sustainability Facts Label, we’re also raising the floor for transparency in the industry. We publicly publish all of our products’ social and environmental impacts in a digestible format for consumers in order to empower them with the knowledge they need to buy responsibly and shift the industry in a more sustainable direction.
Last but not least, our 3rd party certifications and recognitions set us apart from other brands.
- Nisolo is a Top-Rated Certified B Corporation
- B Corp Certification is the most rigorous and holistic 3rd party verification in existence today. Certified B Corporations meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. Focusing on using business as a force for good, B Corps embrace a new way of doing business that envisions a more inclusive, equitable, and regenerative planet and economy. Whereas the median score for the B Impact Assessment among 50,000+ past applicants is a 50.9, an 80 is a passing score, and the average for Certified B Corporations is a 93.8, we most recently scored a 115.4! While the vast majority of fashion brands would never be able to become B Corp Certified because of their poor social and environmental practices, there are around 120 brands who have achieved this feat. The 115.4 Nisolo received for our social, environmental, and governance practices ranks higher than 93% of fashion brands that have become Certified B Corps, placing us at #1 among leather good brands and #3 among footwear brands.
- Re/Make #1 Brand
- Remake is an independent nonprofit with over 1,000 ambassadors around the globe on a mission to change the industry’s harmful practices on people and the planet. They make sustainability accessible and inclusive across their three pillars of work: education, advocacy, and transparency. Remake’s recently released Accountability Report ranks Nisolo as the top performing brand of 60 total brands surveyed across the following impact areas: Traceability, Wages and Wellbeing, Commercial Practices, Raw Materials, Environmental Justice and Climate Change, and Governance, Diversity and Inclusion. Nisolo scored an 83/150 on their assessment. The next runner up was Eileen Fisher with a 56. Other noteworthy brands included Reformation (47), Patagonia (27), Levi’s (20), Allbirds (15), J. Crew (6), GAP (6), and Forever 21 (-13).
- Climate Neutral Certification
- Climate Neutral ensures that we are accurately measuring and offsetting our entire carbon footprint. 100% of our carbon offsets are made through a REDD+ conservation project in the Peruvian Amazon that is certified by the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS).
- Nisolo is a Leather Working Group Member
- We are a Leather Working Group (LWG) member and 95% of our leather uppers are derived from tanneries that are LWG Certified. When it comes to leather tanning, we rely on 3rd party certification from LWG to ensure our suppliers are responsibly processing the hides we use for our products.
- Real Leaders Top 100 Impact Company
- Real Leaders is an independent business magazine and community of impact leaders with a vision for a future where every generation leaves the world better than they found it. In both 2020 and 2021, they recognized Nisolo as a top 100 Impact Company in their annual ranking of positive impact companies around the world. Real Leaders uses a simple formula to evaluate applicants–three-year growth rate (acceleration) x revenue (mass) x B Impact assessment score = A Company’s Force for Good score.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about Nisolo, and what’s your favorite boot/shoe?
I personally love seeing the impact we’ve been able to be a part of in the lives of hundreds of people around the globe who work in our supply chain. Providing a living wage is foundational for poverty alleviation, and we’ve had the privilege to witness the impact of living wages on the families we employ in Peru, Mexico, and Kenya.
I’ve also benefited greatly from the year I spent living and working alongside our producers Peru. What they’ve taught me about love and generosity will always outweigh any work I’ve had the opportunity to do for them.
My favorite shoe has got to be our Andres All Weather Boot. Having personally visited the LWG Certified tannery and family owned facility where it’s made in Mexico, I’m incredibly proud of its sustainability, in addition to its comfort and functionality. It’s my go to winter boots.
Q: How have you fared through supply chain issues in the last two years?
Unlike a lot of fashion brands that abandoned their supply chain partners and canceled orders, we’ve worked in close collaboration with our partners to ensure both parties’ needs have been met throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because of the emphasis we’ve always placed on social and environmental responsibility, we were well positioned to confront this challenging season together. We established a relief fund to meet our producers’ basic needs, and we’ve maintained a close relationship with all of our partners.
Since our supply chain is primarily located within Latin America, we have not dealt with the same degree of challenges as brands that source from Asia.
Q: Anything exciting about Nisolo coming down the pipeline?
We have a lot of exciting work in the pipeline that we’re looking forward to sharing. We’re about to release our sustainability framework, which highlights our holistic approach to sustainability and how we believe the industry can change for good.
We’re launching our first vegan sneakers in May made from an RPET upper and sugar-based EVA sole. And, we’re planning to launch resale later this year as well.
That’s a Wrap
Nisolo doesn’t just make boots—they also make a wide variety of shoes and sandals, too (plus, footwear for the ladies, which is worth peeking at if you’re thinking of gifts).
Like I said earlier, I’ve been rocking my Nisolo Javier Chelsea Boots for about a year and a half and the leather has consistently developed a neat, even patina that I’m loving.
Even better, knowing how far Nisolo goes to make a sustainable product, I’m proud to have these on my feet day after day.