Am I passionate about shoes? That’s a tricky question.
Certainly I have developed a deep appreciation for the craftsmanship with which Adelante shoes are made. And I love to turn a finished product over in my hands, admiring the details that make each pair unique.
But Adelante was not born of a love for shoes. I am a minimalist at heart and do not condone materialism as a general rule.
For me, Adelante isn’t actually about shoes or fashion. Rather, the shoes are a vehicle for a simple, powerful idea that can change the world: if business shifts its objective from profit maximization to responsible profit, the private sector can become an unparalleled force for good.
The Adelante social impact model, called the Living Well Line, means that we pay our craftsmen a fair price for work well done, period. I submit that the best way to galvanize upward mobility in any country is to pay workers enough to consume the goods and services that they define as necessary to live well. That's why Adelante craftsmen play an integral role in defining their own wage in Guatemala and beyond.
The Adelante theory of change is that a customer choosing between two pairs of shoes that are equal in quality, style, and price will choose the pair that manifestly adds value to our world.
Nearly everybody needs shoes, and nearly everybody chooses among brands when shopping. Shoes are not my passion. Harnessing the potential of a million individual decisions to improve our world, however, gets me fired up.
I have been asked many times what Adelante has to do with international relations, a discipline more associated with the foreign service than the shoe business. For me the two undertakings are deeply intertwined.