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Not alone . . . Nisolo

Walking in their shoes

Not alone . . . Nisolo

Nick Meyer ’04 co-founded Nisolo, an artisan shoe making company that helps craftspeople in third-world nations.

Not alone . . . Nisolo

Walking in their shoes

In the impoverished Peruvian community of Wichanzao, a son is going to college, a first for his family. The extra money came from his family’s shoe making work with Nisolo, a company co-founded by Nick Meyer ’04. Nisolo is Spanish for “Not alone.”

Meyer saw Americans looking for shoes that weren’t mass-made, and Peruvian artisans making high-quality leather ones by hand. But the Peruvians lacked access to a market for consistent work. So Meyer, along with Nisolo cofounders Patrick Woodyard and Zoe Cleary, brought the two groups together. The company now works with thirty different artisan shoemakers.

“One of our producers didn’t have a roof — now they have a roof,” he says. “We’ve been around for about a year, and we’ve seen changes in what they’ve been able to buy, due to consistent work through Nisolo.”

Meyer believes helping the poor requires more than just addressing poverty’s symptoms.

“The focus is not going into a community and giving them something material. The focus is giving them empowerment. They have the talent and the skill, but we connect them to a market. That way we sustainably build up an area — now they can train others and feel dignity. That’s how you go in and really do sustainable development so that it’s long-lasting.”

TCU’s BNSF Next Generation Leadership Program helped pave his way, Meyer says. With its international students and overseas trips, the program exposed him to diversity.

“The more you’re exposed to different cultures and different backgrounds,” he says, “the more you expand your horizons. That contributed to my interest in initially going down to Peru, which led to the whole creation of Nisolo.”

Meyer also points to TCU’s emphasis on ethical leadership. “That resonated with me. TCU did a lot of reinforcing of the importance of serving others. Leading for more than just yourself — leading for others as well and for something that is going to affect other people, affect the community, affect society in a positive way.”

On the Web:
Nisolo shoes can be purchased at nisoloshoes.com.