I was scrolling through Instagram and came across this footwear account whose designs I loved, but as I dug deeper, I discovered something that surprised me and that I believe more people should be aware of. The majority of the leather they use is made from fruit waste!! Yes, you read that correctly; I had no idea such a thing existed, but Cielito made it very clear that there would be no waste and that every piece would be used for good. So let's learn more about this incredible brand and the women behind it.
“Cielito is all about creating timeless, premium pieces made by Egyptian hands."
Let's get to know the women behind Cielito a little better
Lolwa Awad graduated with a degree in International Relations from QMUL before joining the LSE to study economics and development. She worked in the UK for a while before returning to Egypt and beginning a career in public relations for both local and international clients.
After a while, she realized that the Egyptian manufacturing industry was expanding in all areas except footwear and bags, and Lolwa realized that the footwear manufacturing industry had a lot of room for growth. Egyptian craftsmen are among the best in the world; however, they lack the tools necessary to produce high-end pieces. Cielito is currently working on creating timeless, premium pieces with Egyptian hands.
1. When did the Cielito idea start?
Cielito is the result of my passion for all things innovative, new, and unique.
In February 2021, I went to buy shoes when I realized that everything looked the same and that I was constantly needing to buy shoes for all of the different occasions and dressing styles that I have. There had to be a way out. Shoes that can be worn from the morning to the evening to the soiree.
Cielito creates shoes that can be dressed up or down and will last for years.
2. Cielito is a Spanish name, why was this name chosen specifically?
Cielito is a Spanish word that means 'Little Sky,' but it can also be used as a loving name that means 'Darling.' It is the way women deserve to feel, and it is the feeling Cielito wishes to instill in all Cielito loyal customers.
3. It is well known that the shoe industry in Egypt is a bit difficult, why did you choose this field specifically?
In Egypt, there is a significant gap in the design and manufacturing fields. Women are looking for brands that produce high-quality, comfortable shoes that are both distinctive and reasonably priced.
However, manufacturers, on the one hand, want to cut corners and use low-quality materials in order to save as much money as possible; and, on the other hand, you have designers who over-price their pieces, and others who are afraid to try something new for fear of losing sales.
Egyptian women have the right to wear fashionable, comfortable shoes made of high-quality materials. My dream is to one day export Cielito shoes all over the world, so that everyone can appreciate the beauty of Egyptian manufacturing and design.
4. According to my information, the brand's raw materials are imported from different countries of the world. What are the difficulties you face in this matter and how do you deal with them?
So far, we have been incredibly lucky in that we have not encountered any difficulties in importing materials. We hand-pick our suppliers based on samples, portfolios, and endorsements, with the goal of obtaining the best materials; additionally, customs have been extremely informative and helpful.
We buy materials from Italy, Spain, Germany, Mexico, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, and many other countries, and each supplier sells us only one of our core materials, so things can get a little crazy, especially at the start of the production season.
Having said that, we are proud to say that all of our genuine leather has been produced in Egypt so far.
5. What are the most difficult stages that you go through in Cielito? From choosing the design to finishing the shoe?
One of the most difficult aspects is designing the shoes. I'm always on the lookout for new materials and designs, but I'm also concerned about whether customers will like them. Another difficult stage is the start of production, which can be quite hectic with so many materials and samples coming together.
6. The idea of Vegan Leather made of Fruits caught my eye, and we would like to know more about it and how did you come up with the idea?
Fruit leather is incredible, and it is our contribution to COP26, the UN-led world solution to climate change. We are honored to carry the Egyptian name in our contribution to such a worthy cause.
Fruit leather has all of the characteristics of genuine leather and can last even longer due to its formulation.
We first had the idea when we were experimenting with faux leather, also known as PVC leather, which is made of non-recyclable plastic. PVC leather cracks and peels easily and only lasts about 6 months before losing shape. Besides that, it causes sweaty feet as well as the hardening and cracking of the foot's heel. This is unacceptable to us.
We began looking for alternatives when we came across the concept of leather made from fruits. So far, we've used leather from pineapple fruit and pineapple trees to make comfortable and light sneakers, and we've used prickly pear leather to make flats. A fun fact about prickly pear leather is that it actually softens the feet because it contains Aloe Vera, as opposed to its PVC leather competitor, which causes scratches and hardening.
Fruit leather is much cheaper in the long run because it lasts longer. Faux leather shoes are likely to last 6 months of continuous use; however, fruit leather can last 2-3 years of continuous use.
Environmentally, PVC leather uses more water to produce, has toxic by-products that endanger our environment and the people who work in these factories, and is broken up into pieces that end up in our water bodies and pollute them. Plastic is frequently consumed by the very fish that we eat.
7. Is it true that the high heel shoes are designed differently? How can these shoes be comfortable for women?
You are completely correct! When designing high heel shoes, we strive for both comfort and beauty. To be honest, the idea of having to suffer in order to look beautiful is out of date and ridiculous. Character, comfort, and confidence all contribute to beauty. Those are our big C's, which we keep in mind at all times during design and production. To achieve this, we use special padding and midsoles that provide maximum comfort.
Interestingly, we have a pair of heels called 'Celia' that do not even have your toes touching the ground. With 'Celia,' we designed the heels to redistribute the wearer's weight to the ball of the foot, as opposed to the traditional heel and toe alignment.
8. Another thing that drew my attention was the brand's colors, which can actually be coordinated with any color on any look. Was this done on purpose?
Every woman has different moods, occasions, and fashion personas, and buying 50 shoes to fit each of them is inefficient and expensive. As a result, we make every effort to ensure that all of our shoes can be worn for a variety of occasions and are appropriate for both formal and casual attire.
9. What is the feeling Cielito wishes to evoke in women?
The main goal of a Cielito pair is to be one-of-a-kind, comfortable, and confident.
Many of us, including myself, grew up hearing that beauty can be uncomfortable and painful; this is something Cielito is working hard to change.
We create shoes and bags that are one-of-a-kind, innovative, and comfortable to wear.
10. Finally, we'd like to know what the Cielito brand's future plans are for the coming years.
We've recently been collaborating with a few international artists to create textiles from their work. This is something I am very excited about and can't wait to share with everyone when the products are ready.
We also have a couple of huge surprises in the works that will completely disrupt the Egyptian footwear market.