Our creative process has three stages – concept, development and procurement.
We always have a strong starting point from which we can be inspired. One of the main elements of our business is creativity and, bringing with that, inspiration, which Rebecca learnt in her training in Italy. From that initial concept, our collections then express a point of view or tell a story.
The development phase is all about designing with freedom, not too many restrictions and having the ability to express yourself without commercial restrictions - designing whatever your heart tells you to.
Procurement is about bringing those dreams into reality– what will work in the marketplace, what we can see our customers wearing, and what will inspire them but also serve them best.
Every pair of Chaos & Harmony shoes begins life as a hand-drawn sketch. We then choose high grade, often textured, leathers at markets before our shoes go into production in the Guangdong Province in China.
We believe in the art of creating something by hand, and the quality that can only be achieved in this way. Our operations manager Hayley Fruish is in daily contact with our extended team of artisans working in China, and we visit at least every 12 weeks to check on production. Many of our Chinese team are not only highly qualified, with the specialist skills required to make high quality shoes by hand, but have also worked with us for years and greet us like old friends when we visit. Our shoes are bespoke – completed by hand, from creating the leather uppers to attaching the soles. Our factory abides by ethical manufacturing standards.
We have spent years working with our Chinese team to create shoe lasts (moulds) that are not only flattering but, most importantly, comfortable. We use a latex memory foam on the footbed for best comfort, as well as a super-soft leather lining. We know our customers are busy women, which is why we make it as easy as possible to get in and out of our shoes - most styles have zips. You’ve probably noticed the distinct design details that set Chaos & Harmony shoes apart - features such as matte buckles, embossed custom zip pullers and unique laces.
As a successful business, we have a social responsibility. A key element of our business is significance, which means seeing how we can connect worlds. When we talked to our staff a few years ago about which causes pulled on their hearts, human trafficking was one. So we connected with Nvader and Tearfund, who do phenomenal work in Thailand, and donate to them regularly. They are active on the frontline, working to remove vulnerable woman, children and men from the hands of traffickers. They collaborate with Thai officials to gather intel where they can, then prosecute offenders. You can read more about the work they do here.
I’ve always loved the idea that we could create a business that goes beyond designing and making shoes and could potentially help people that are vulnerable.
We also support Breast Cancer Cure, which is a New Zealand organisation that works to find a cure for breast cancer. This connection comes from a personal experience – both Rebecca’s mum and mother-in-law were diagnosed with breast cancer within four days of each other. Breast cancer is now part of Chaos & Harmony’s life story. Each year we create a pink shoe to raise funds for Breast Cancer Cure in October.
We often gift people shoes and help out smaller, local causes, as well. We really believe that when it comes to working with charities, it’s about doing the thing that affects your heart. We are all drawn to different causes, but if we all operate from what pulls your heart, then we would all be helping the people who really need it.