Cynthia Reyes and her sister Liz Reyes share how SOLS, their handmade Mexican shoe business, has the vision to celebrate culture and empower local artisans in Mexico.
Because SOLS crafts huaraches, a traditional Mexican sandal, Cynthia, a BYU–Hawaii alumna, and Liz Reyes said they want to bring their Mexican culture to the mainland United States, where they grew up.
They said, “Culture is not just defined by your skin color or where you are from. [Culture is defined by] what you do every day and your passion.”
According to their website, shopsols.com, huaraches are Mexican’s native sandal, with a history as long, unique, and enduring as the artisans themselves. SOLS huaraches are intricate woven sandals made with genuine veg-tanned leather and recycled tire rubber.
With hand-crafted genuine leather, their shoes are made by expert artisans living in Mexican pueblitos (small villages), and the Reyes said their business has a major impact in supporting their family in Mexico.
The Reyes said most of their artisans are single mothers and their children may have to drop out from school to work in order to earn a living.
“We want to help them feel coherent and build business. The family needs our help and we want to be able to help them as well.”
Liz said God is their third partner and he won’t let them fail. She said sometimes it is frustrating, but they try to keep in mind God is guiding the decisions they make.
Likewise, Cynthia said when they are in doubt, they remember Heavenly Father hears their prayers. She said she also thinks of all the people in Mexico who count on them.
Madisen Lew, a BYUH alumna and employee of SOLS, said Instagram enables them to put out positive messages. “We do a spotlight [post] for the artisans or Mexico each week [and] it spreads culture and highlights where these shoes come from.”
The materials and names of each shoe have special meaning, said the founders. The Reyes explained each pair of shoes is named after influential women in their lives. “[These women] have helped us in our lives. We want to keep that going in our business.”
“‘Ana’ and ‘Maria’ [are] named after our mother, Maria Anita.” They said the ‘Ana’ is one of their most popular shoes.
The brand and logo
The name SOLS shares the same pronunciation of sun in the Spanish language, according to the Reyes. It represents spreading sunshine and great happiness. Also, they play on words like the sole of your shoe and your soul.
The SOLS logo features a green cactus. The Reyes said they were inspired to use cactus because they can adjust to any environment, like adoption of different cultures. Reyes added, “Cactus flourishes the most when they have more obstacles. And our shoe is sustainable fashion.”
The rubber used to make the sole in their shoes is extracted liquid from trees which, the Reyes said, makes the sole long-lasting.
“Your leather might come and go after years, but your sole would still be there.”
The Reyes said their company has helped them reach various groups of people around the globe. For example, Liz said they were planning to work with women with bigger shoe sizes because the market was not inclusive for them.
Cynthia also mentioned people, even though are far away from Mexico, have bought their shoes and are able to have a piece of Mexican culture with them.
SOLS will have their two-year anniversary soon and Lews said she is excited to see the future development of the company. She added it is an accomplishment for a business to make it this long and still grow.
The Reyes sisters are offering a 20 percent discount code for BYUH students. Students should enter the code kealakai20 at checkout, or click here and the code will automatically be applied.