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The children’s shoe brand Pololo of the founders Franziska Kuntze and Verena Carney in Berlin turns 15. The brand has become known for its fair and ecologically produced children’s shoes. Most of the collections were handmade and “Made in Germany” adapted from the designs of Verena Carney. Franziska Kuntze spoke to Luna Journal about what is important for sustainably produced children’s shoes.
You celebrate the 15th anniversary. What was the intention behind the company’s foundation?
Franziska Kuntze, Managing Director of Pololo: “We ourselves were looking for suitable shoes for our at that time young children and found nothing suitable on the market. Either they were colorful but the quality was not good or they were rather dull and less pretty, as we found. We wanted to combine quality and an attractive appearance in a child’s shoe. This is how our first small company emerged from an idea.
How long did it take you from the planning to the implementation of your first shoe collection?
The first collection comprises “only” 6 models, but for this we needed only 3 months to launch this shoe – from the first conversation to the first sale in December.
According to your own statements, you manufacture ecologically and fairly produced children’s shoes. How does this make itself felt in your products?
According to the market understanding of some customers, children’s shoes should be cheap to buy. In order to meet this customer requirement, production and the quality of the leather must be reduced. This also applies to ecological conditions and working conditions.
We wanted to produce our Pololo children’s shoes under fair and ecologically sound conditions. A child’s shoe is something special and should also have a good quality when it comes to the leather and design. Our grandparents saw it that way and found that children needed good footwear. They attached great importance to good quality. With our Pololo children’s shoes we still want to meet these requirements today.
In 2004, Greenpeace awarded the Pololo “Whale Moby” model with the label “particularly ecologically and socially compatible product”. How important is sustainability to you?
Very important, we are certified according to the highest ecological and health quality standards: IVN Naturleder, Biokreis and as an award for our health criteria with the ECARF quality mark for allergy-friendly products. Sustainability was important to us from the very beginning and was a core issue. We are also very committed both politically and in the industry. Our goal was to produce children’s shoes under such conditions that our children are also proud of us. For example, we have not worked so much to maximize profits in the short term but we rather focused on ecological and commercial production. Our Pololo children’s shoes are produced exclusively “Made in Germany”.
How important is this seal of approval to you? What security does this offer your customers?
This makes us flexible and enables us to respond quickly to market conditions. The seal of approval gives our customers the certainty that we do not have long transport routes. On long oversea transports, the goods are treated beforehand in such a way that they do not mold or rot. To prevent this, the products are protected from it with a high energy input and with chemicals. Due to our short transport route, we do not have to treat our children’s shoes with toxic compounds.
What materials do you use to manufacture your shoes? What has to be considered in the production of children’s shoes?
We work with vegetable tanned leather, which is particularly soft, skin-friendly, chrome-free and smooth. The material of children’s shoes should be smooth and cuddly. In addition, they should not have an orthopedic footbed if the foot is healthy. The sole must be flexible and if the shoe looks great, the end product is perfect.
How do you stand out from your competitors?
In design, quality and in our direct contact with our customers. I think you can quickly see who is behind POLOLO.
Where are Pololo children’s shoes manufactured?
Our shoes are produced in Bavaria and in Spain/Alicante.
Which market is the most profitable for you?
The German-speaking market is the most profitable for us.
Which markets would you like to enter in the future?
We would like to expand our brand presence in Europe even further. In the future we plan to establish our Pololo children’s shoes on the market in China and South Korea.
What do you think of Influencer Marketing? Would you consider working with bloggers and influencers?
We are already working closely with some bloggers. Those include “Apfelbäckchen“, “Geborgen Wachsen” und “Elischeba“. They then test our slippers or street shoes with their children and report about them in their blogs – sometimes this is combined with a competition. The cooperation also allows us a great exchange between companies and influencers and is much fun.
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