In 2013, we first featured Minnesota shoemaking duo Ina Grau as part of a featured dubbed “The New Traditionalists.” Tapping South American and Midwestern design influences, Ina Grau created handmade leather and textile oxfords with bright colors and bold lines, manufactured in both Minnesota and Columbia. The brand was quietly discontinued sometime in 2014, after the pair was announced as a finalist for the American Craft Council’s Rare Craft Fellowship Award. Since then, designers Crystal Quinn and Luisa Fernanda Garcia-Gomez have parted ways as business partners, with Quinn focusing on her own handmade shoe designs as well as textile purses and colorful poms, and Garcia-Gomez moving to Madison, Wisconsin to purse a Master’s degree in design studies and found her own shoe line.
I chatted with Garcia-Gomez in anticipation of her trunk show for her new shoe brand, Mompoxino, this Saturday at her Madison studio.
Q: How you ended up moving to Madison and starting your own line?
A: I moved to Madison with the desired to follow a Master’s degree in design studies and work as an independent designer. During my process with Crystal Quinn in Ina Grau, besides collaborating about design aspects, I was in charge of the production and importation of a small, handmade run of shoes, which were designed by us but produced in Columbia. We started that project with the idea of helping the Colombians cobblers who taught us how to make shoes and are now struggling with the negative impacts of globalization on their trade. I ended being accepted at the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a full ride and can now approach subjects such as fair trade, handmade versus mass-produced products, and creative exchanges between different countries. I could no longer continue with Ina Grau because of my studies, but I wanted to continue designing and creating shoes and follow my passion, and Mompoxino was born.
Oxford from Mompoxino’s spring/summer 2015 collection
Q: What does Mompoxino mean?
A: Mompoxino means a person who comes from Mompox, an island inside of the Magdalena, the biggest river in Colombia. Mompox is where Columbia’s independence from Spain began, and is where my father is from. For me, it means a return to my origins.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about your design inspiration and process?
A: The shoes are 100% leather and I only do one or two pair by sizes. And beside a sewing machine, they are made by hand. Mompoxino takes its inspiration from the muddy side of the tropics—away from the idea of flowers and palms. I would like to show the other side of the tropics, where there are mangroves, mud, snakes, cows, brown rivers, and big insects.
Q: How does it work having items made both in the U.S. and Columbia?
A: Some of the shoes are made all in Colombia and others are all made in U.S., and there are others that are a bit of both. It depends of the project and the techniques found in each country. Working with Colombia is very important to me because of my roots, but the U.S. is my adopted country and I believe that I can find the strength between each America. I’m still trying to figure out the way to work in both countries in a official way, but so far I’m getting my inspirations and teachings from both.
View and purchase Mompoxino’s new spring/summer 2015 collection and take 20% off its fall 2014 collection, plus 10% off both collections when purchasing with cash. Noon-5 p.m. Sat., June 13, 29 E. Wilson St., Madison, WI, 917-751-2172. Select shoes by Mompoxino are also available online at mompoxino.com; for other styles, email email@example.com.
Mompoxino’s spring/summer 2015 collection
Woven bag from Mompoxino’s spring/summer 2015 collection
Sandal from Mompoxino’s spring/summer 2015 collection
Bootie from Mompoxino’s spring/summer 2015 collection
Oxfords from Mompoxino’s spring/summer 2015 collection
Booties from Mompoxino’s fall/winter 2014 and spring/summer 2015 collection
Sandal from Mompoxino’s spring/summer 2015 line