Vendor Spotlight: Zou Xou

Katherine Theobalds, founder of Zou Xou

Katherine Theobalds, founder of Zou Xou

Zou Xou is a slow fashion, artisan-made footwear brand founded in 2015 by Katherine Theobalds. “I love good, sensible shoes. Sensible shoes are comfortable, practical, and long-lasting. A good shoe is highly versatile yet makes the wearer excited to get dressed. Even more important to me is to manufacture our shoes responsibly by ensuring wellbeing for our artisans, rejecting overproduction & creating shoes that bring lasting value and joy to your life. I believe that what we choose to wear should express who we are and align with what we value.”   

What year did you start your business?


Where are you based?

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Zou Xou shoes

How did you become a creator / business owner?

I was working in the fashion industry as a freelance footwear designer for a few years, but always had this side project of shoemaking since leaving fashion school. When I met my partner Mariano, who's from Argentina, I started going down to Argentina between freelance gigs to take shoemaking workshops. Over the span of a few years, I made a handful of shoemaking contacts down in Buenos Aires while going back and forth between NYC. Those contacts came in handy in early 2015 when my time working at my last job in the industry ended unexpectedly. I dug up those contacts, developed some of my sketches into my first samples, and those into a collection. By April 2015, I had hosted my first trunk show to friends and acquaintances and launched my website. In the fall of 2015 I did my first trade show and market. There I received my first wholesale order for 100 pairs of shoes. The rest is history.

Favorite part about running your business?

My customers! My team. And I love it when
I hit a home run with a silhouette.

Zou Xou shoes

“Zou Xou makes shoes for those who dress for themselves, the thoughtful dressers who seek pieces that are as functional as they are rousing; as fresh as they are long-lasting.”

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

I would love to see my business's online presence flourish and have some sort of longterm physical space in a prime area both in the US and Buenos Aires. I would also love to introduce a new category.

Favorite song?

Don't Let me Be Misunderstood by Nina Simone

Zou Xou Shoes

Biggest hurdle in running your business?

My mindset. And organic social media growth.

Zou Xou Shoes

Any advice for new BIPOC business owners?

Running a creative business is emotional! When you're a BIPOC business owner there's the added dynamic of racial bias (whether systemic or interpersonal) that can really make things a mindf*ck. Get a mentor, coach or therapist who can help you navigate the ups and downs. You need someone who can encourage you when things aren't where you'd like them to be and knows when to tell you, "it's not you, it's them". It's important to prevent doom spirals -- they can lead to bad decisions or just stop you in your tracks entirely. It's also good to have someone in your corner to talk to when things are going well and opportunities abound to help you filter through everything and make sure what you do aligns with your goals.

Zou Xou Shoes

Fave snack from your family background?

Probably my grandmother's fishcakes! They were the perfect morsels that just melted in the mouth. She was Gullah, which an enclave of African-Americans from the South Carolina Sea Islands who have their own language, customs and recipes. Like most traditional comfort foods, there wasn't really a written recipe for it, just a way of making it, depending on the cook. And unfortunately, she took it with her when she passed. That recipe is still a mystery to my family. We can't figure out what made them so good!

What does In Todo mean to you?

In Todo means claiming your own space.

Zou Xou Shoes

︎ @zouxoushoes
Images via Zou Xou

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