The Story of Hola Lili
Our Handwoven Fabrics
Hola Lili is all about handwoven textiles. Each pair of our shoes features a fabric that reflects centuries of craft. We keep the shoe designs classic, but comfortable, so you can show off the fabrics every day.
Each piece carries a story – whether it is the Balud fabric inspired by the waves of Lake Lanao, the geometric prints of the Kinan-ew fabric, symbolizing spears and other items found in the mountains, or the optical spirals of the Binakul representing the wind and waves. Whatever fabric you choose, know that these were chosen not just because they are gorgeous, but also for the cultural heritage these represent.
Hours of hard work are needed to make these ornate textiles yet these are not always appreciated. The weavers, because of low wages and scarce opportunities, are tempted by jobs in the big cities or even in other countries, which can take them away from their families for years at a time.
Why preserve hand weaving? One of the greatest advantages of hand weaving allowing the weavers, mostly women, to work from home. With floor looms in their living room or a back strap loom anchored to a tree or pillar, they can take care of kids and family, while flexibly earning a living. Among weaving communities in the Philippines, mothers say that a child strapped to her mother’s back can be put right to sleep by the rhythm of weaving. Who needs a swing?
Hola Lili wants these weavers to be able to live and earn a living in their communities, and sources fabrics as close to the producers as possible, usually from a cooperative. By working with small enterprises using supportive, fair trade business practices, we hope to positively impact weaver communities. By developing appreciation for these weaves in the new markets like North America and Europe, we also hope to grow demand for these products and keep these traditions alive.
Our Handmade Shoes
Artisan Sapateros (shoemakers) have been cutting, gluing, lasting and stitching shoes for over a century in the city of Marikina, Philippines. Unfortunately, the flood of cheap machine-made shoes from China has put tremendous pressure on the local industry. As jobs decrease, skills are lost as the next generation looks elsewhere for income.
Hola Lili works with a small shoe workshop-factory that is dedicated to preserving the shoemaking tradition, with innovative styles and progressive business practices. While most of the local industry pay per piece, we work with a manufacturer that pays salaries, invests in the personal and professional development of her employees, and has implemented a code of ethics in the workshop.
We could make the shoes cheaper and faster in a Chinese factory but Hola Lili wants to support quality jobs where workers are artisans and do not have to travel away from their families to make a living.
Thoughtful Business Decisions
Hola Lili is trying to develop a profitable, ethical, and sustainable business model. We look for opportunities for make decisions that improve the lives of our stakeholders through economic opportunity and environmental sustainability. We hope that with ever new business decision, we can add to our positive impact.
- Many of our shoes come with recycled tire soles – the comfort of a rubber sole, while reducing waste.
- Many of our textiles are directly sourced from cooperatives which pay weavers more, and often help by buying thread, guaranteeing purchases of textile and allowing flexible delivery dates. We hope to have all of our fabrics sourced through cooperatives or directly from artisan weavers by the end of 2018
- Our Hola Lili shoe bags are made by a livelihood enterprise that gives women in crisis a living wage while developing skills to help them provide for their families. They print our bags with soy inks on sustainably sourced fabrics.
- Hola Lili saves manufacturing scraps to repurpose into beautiful pieces that one day may also be sold on our website.
The future holds more positive opportunities from natural waterproofing, vegan leathers and fabrics made from plants and weeds, textiles woven from recycled clothing, lower footprint packaging, and more. And of course, finding new textiles to design into our shoes.
Meg Keough and Jiggy Santillan both found a love for handwoven textiles through their travels. Throughout Asia, a wealth of handwoven fabrics can still be found, though the tradition is slowly dying.
Fascination with the weaves led to brainstorming over cocktails with the idea that, “we have to do something with these pieces of art.” Mix in shoemaking classes with market analysis, and the idea of using beautiful handwoven fabrics in classic, comfortable shoes was born.
Both women come with strong business experience, Meg in Silicon Valley, and Jiggy in South East Asia. The idea of doing well while doing good – creating a profitable business that benefits both investors, and stakeholders and their communities, while delighting customers – would not be possible without this experience.