Meet Ramonas: Shoes with an Edge

What is it about shoes? Such simple, necessary things that have the power to make our lives misery and to make an outfit complete? I´m a kiwi girl at heart, which means I have a thing for wearing jandals in all the wrong situations and a penchant for forgoing shoes all together, but even I will admit there is something about the creations of this Chilean small business that set my tootsies wriggling to get in to a pair. Maybe its the fact that Ramonas seems ahead of the trends, boasting stylish designs with a gloriously rock and roll edge, or maybe its the fact that their Instagram is a thing of shoe-fetish glory, whatever it is, Ramonas has fast become my favorite shoe company this side of the equator.

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Ten Questions with Ramonas/ Diez Preguntas con Ramonas

Who is Ramonas and why start the business/ Quien es Ramonas y por que empezaste la tienda?

My name is Natalia and I am a commercial engineer from the Universidad Tecnica Ferderico Santa Maria. I started my brand around a year ago when I commissioned a pair of shoes that I had in mind and which I couldn´t find anywhere to buy. At the time I had an Instagram account that I used to sell clothes, and I published a photo of these shoes I´d designed. Suddenly I had lots of orders for these shoes and my label was born, though at the time it had no name. I had a hard time coming up with a name that represented the style I was going for. One day I woke up with a song stuck in my head ´Hey ho – lets go!´ and that was it – Ramonas it was.

Mi nombre en Natalia, soy ingeniera comercial de la Universidad Técnica Federico Santa Maria. Empecé mi marca hace un año más o menos, mande a hacer un par de zapatos que tenía en mente, no lo encontraba en ninguna tienda así que me lo mande a hacer. Cuando iba en la Universidad tenía un Instagram donde vendía ropa, y publiqué la foto de este par de zapatos. Tuvo aceptación y empecé a vender mucho. Así partió la marca, que en ese tiempo no tenía nombre.  Me costó encontrar un nombre que realmente representara el estilo que tienen los zapatos y accesorios que hago. Un día desperté pegada con una canción de Los Ramones “hey ho let’s go!” Y ahí salió el nombre “Ramonas”.
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What is your bestseller/ Cual es tu bestseller?
That would be the ´bien rockero´ shoe. We use lots of metal accessories, dark and vivid colours, to make it an aggressive style. These ´Ramonas´ shoes make any outfit transgressive.
El estilo de los zapatos es bien rockero. Usamos artos accesorios de metal, colores oscuros y brillantes, para un estilo agresivo. Usando solo basicos y un par de zapatos “Ramonas” logras un look transgresor.
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What is the process to create a shoe/ Cual es el proceso a diseñar y producir los zapatos?
The process is complex. From the initial idea until the physical shoe is finished, each design takes severals goes until it´s perfect.  Each part of the shoe needs to be designed and has to work with the other pieces. In addition, the selection of material is extremely important because we don´t only sell style but comfort and quality too, and we want that our customers come to recognize us for that.  Once the design and materials are all approved, it is time to think about the accessories and choose colours and patterns. It is a long but beautiful job.
El proceso es bien complejo. Desde la idea de un par de zapatos hasta tener el zapato físico, hecho y que haya quedado tal cual lo imagínaste hay que hacer varias pruebas.
Cada pieza que compone un par de zapatos es un diseño, todas las piezas tienen que calzar. Además la elección de materiales es otro tema muy importante. No sólo vendemos estilo, también calidad y comodidad. Así logramos que nuestras clientas se identifiquen con la marca y nos escojan una y otra vez.
Cuando el diseño y los materiales son aprobados, viene el diseño de accesorios, escoger colores y patrones. Es un trabajo largo pero hermoso. 
What has been your best moment so far/ Cual ha sido el mejor momento de tu carrera, con la tienda?
The best moment is today.  We are only a young brand but already we have positioned outselves in the market. Initially we started out just doing internet sales and now, a year later, we have gone retail. I love this project and I hope that we take this even further.
El mejor momento de mi carrera es hoy, es una marca joven, pero en poco tiempo nos hemos ido posicionando. Esto partió exclusivamente por ventas vía Internet y un año despues ya entramos al retail. Amo este proyecto, y espero llegar muy lejos con la marca.
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Why shoes? How many pairs of shoes do we really need/ Por que zapatos? Cual zapatos todas las mujeres debe tener?
Why shoes? I don´t know, it was so casual. I never thought about design before, I always saw myself as a manager, working in human resources as part of a giant company, which was always my goal until two years ago.  I come from a family of shoemakers but it had never caught my attention until I made that first pair of shoes that got so much interest.  That moment opened up a whole different world for me and today I can´t imagine doing anything else.
As for how many shoes, fashion is like a chameleon and is constantly changing. Right now every one should hve a pair of slippers (babuchas). They are very comfortable but also very stylish and versatile
Por que zapatos? No se, fue muy casual. Nunca pensé en el diseño como una faceta, siempre me imaginé como gerente del área de recursos humanos de una empresa gigante, esa era mi meta hace dos años atrás.Vengo de una familia de zapateros, pero el rubro nunca me llamo la atencion hasta que hice este par de zapatos para mi y que al publicarlos muchas los quisieron comprar. En ese momento se abrió el mundo para mi, y hoy no me imagino haciendo otra cosa.
En cuanto al par de zapatos que toda mujer debería tener…la moda es camaleónica, estamos en constante cambio. Hoy todas deberían tener un par de babuchas. Es un modelo comodo, que estiliza y es muy versátil.
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What are some other Chilean businesses you like/ Cuales negocios chilenos te gustan?
Bestias is a Chilean shoe company that I like a lot, and I refer to them in a certain sense. They are really cool! They do a fantastic job.
Bestias es una marca chilena de zapatos que me gusta mucho, son referentes para mi en cierto sentido.Los encuentro secos! Su trabajo es maravilloso.
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What is your favorite restaurant in Santiago/ Cual restaurant es tu favorito en Santiago?
My favorite is Abtao, in Barrio Bellavista (Dardignac 0185, Providencia). The concept is Chile, all their dishes and drinks are inspired by different parts of the county (I should know – I have tried their whole menu!). It is just delicious. I also really like Bar Mañio (Pasaje el Mañio, Vitacura), which is a really great tapas bar.

Mi favorito se llama Abtao, queda en el barrio bellavista (dardignac 0185, providencia)
El concepto de ellos es chile, todos los platos y tragos que ofrecen están inspirados en distintas partes del pais (he provado toda la carta!) . Es riquísimo y además super conveniente. Otro restaurante que me gusta mucho es Bar Mañio, queda en el pasaje el Mañio, en vitacura. Este es un bar de tapas, es riquísimo Y super ondero!!
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Where is your favorite spot in Chile/ Cual es tu lugar favorito en Chile?
My favorite place in Chile is Santiago – I love this city!
Mi lugar favorito de Chile es Santiago – me encanta esta ciudad!
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You sell your shoes in the fashion store, Paes. How did you come across them/ Tienes zapatos en la tienda Paes – como la descubres la tienda y diseñador?
I first started selling my shoes in the store, Paes. I first met [owner and designer] Paola Escobar at an entrepeneurs fair, where she told me that she had some space for me to physically sell my shoes . Her clothes are beautiful and she trusted my work enough to let me have a space in her store.
Just recently we have begun selling our shoes at Paris in Parque Arauco. This is my first foray into retail and you can find the shoes in the ¨monqitas a la moda¨ section.
Mi primer punto de venta fue tienda Paes. A la Pao (dueña de Paes) la conocí en una feria de emprendedores, ella me dio el espacio para poder vender mi marca en un lugar físico. Su ropa es muy linda, y ella confió en mi trabajo y me dio un espacio en su tienda.
Hace una semana Ramonas esta en tiendas París del Parque Arauco, en el sector de ´monjitas a la moda´. Es mi primera incursión en retail. 
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What´s next for Ramonas/ Cual es proximo para la tienda?
To keep growing. In the short term, we want to be in Paris in the Costanera Centre and Alto Las Condes. After that, we want to have a physical presence across all of Chile.
Seguir creciendo, como meta en el corto plazo es estar en París del Costanera y alto las condes. Para algún día tener presencia física en todo Chile 
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The Nitty Gritty

Tienda Paes: Candelaria Goyenchea 3820, Local 206, Vitacura

Tienda Paris: Mall Parque Arauco, Av. Presidente Kennedy 5413, Las Condes

Whatsapp orders: +56954255033

Facebook here

Instagram here

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Meet Hello Kiddo: A Small Business Supporting Small Minds

It is nearly Christmas! I hope you are all ordering your homemade pan de pascua (traditional christmas cake) and getting ready for the big day. Who else is trying to support local and small businesses this year? Please check out my shopping guide if you need some ideas.

If you have small children, you might want to pay attention to this article. Introducing Hello Kiddo, a small venture run by Natalie (Australia) and her Chilean husband, dedicated to selling only the best items for little ones (and from where M´s Christmas present is from this year!). Read on to learn a little it more about Natalie and Hello Kiddo.

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Who is Hello Kiddo?

Hello Kiddo is our little family business, between my husband and I. He has a day job but is helping me out in his free time. I´m Australian and my husband is Chilean. I came to Chile for love and have lived here for almost 8 years now. I am a stay at home mum to my 22 month old son and have been itching to start a little business on the side from home.

Why did you decide to start Hello Kiddo?

Hello Kiddo started just 10 days ago launching our first product called PLAYON CRAYON. My mum brought a box of Playon Crayons from Australia when she was visiting us when my son was born. I hadn´t opened it until a few months ago when my son was only 18 months old. He was going through a very stong ´mamitis´[attachment to mother] phase, I was kind of tired and felt like bringing out a new toy for him to concentrate on for a little bit and not just me. When I gave him the box, he didn´t look at me for 40 mins. There are mums out there who know the feeling! He was concentrating on the colourful crayons, stacking them into towers. They would fall, and then he would try stacking them again. He had no idea then that you could draw with them too. From then on, I became a big fan of this product, I was convinced that this was a product that all kids could benefit from here. We are now the oficial distributors of Playon Crayon for Chile.

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Photo: Hello Kiddo

What is the Playon Crayon?

PLAYON CRAYON is a box of 12 crayons that come in 2 different sets, (primary and pastel colours).

These sculptural crayons transform coloring into a playtime adventure. They’re still the go-to tool for your children to create fantastic, colorful pictures, but instead of the usual stick shape, they take the form of hollow cones with a bulbous end. Not only is the shape great for easy gripping by little hands, but the crayons are fun to stack into towers, or arrange into patterns. They dance on fingertips like puppets, and can be threaded onto twine for a rainbow necklace. They are a great tool to play with and teach your child about colours and even adding/subtracting when they are older.

The cone shape also means that instead of rolling off the table and underneath the sofa, they spin around in playful circles. They are certified non-toxic by the Art & Creative Materials Institute, USA.  The packaging is 100% recyclable.

On the box it is recommended for ages 2 years + however I gave it to my son earlier and he still loved them.

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Photo: Hello Kiddo

 

What is your favorite thing about living in Chile?

The mountains that I see everyday from my balcony! You would never get this beautiful view in Australia!

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The mountains (in winter)

Do you have a favorite restaurant here?

I love Quinoa (the restaurant) in Vitacura. Its a cool, healthy, vegeterian cafe/restaurant that serves high quality food. I love having brunch there when possible. I used to go more before I had a child.

 

Is there a particular place you love in Chile?

Anywhere that is outside our norm of Santiago life. The south of Chile especially!

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Photo: Yorka Abarca

Many of my readers are mums, or mums-to-be, and would be interested to know how it went for you giving birth here. Can you tell us about that?

Yes I gave birth in Chile. Even though It was a long 18 hour labor at the clinic, I had a very nice experience. The doctors and midwife listened to my needs and complied to the birth plan I discussed with them months earlier. It was exactly what I imagined my birth would be like.

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Max with his crayons! Photo: Hello Kiddo

What is next for Hello Kiddo?

Our wish is to bring more useful kids products and even make things ourselves from home in Chile. My background is in design, so I want to design and make my own baby/kids products. We started with the Playon crayons to test the market and practise what it is like having a small business in Chile. So far so good.

 

How can people order your products?

You can order your box of crayons through our website www.hellokiddo.cl.

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Photo: Hello Kiddo

More Information

Instagram here

Facebook here


Did you like this? Check out these other small businesses I love:

Kids clothes from Ñirre Bebe;

Fun leggings and printed clothes from La Pituka;

Economical books for kids from Editorial Dansema;

Books in Spanish and toys from Pajarito de Mimbre.

 

Prefiero Chileno: Local Shopping Guide

This year, I made a conscious effort to buy local, and I would say that about 80% of my Christmas shopping this year ended up being gifts made in Chile.  This drive to support small has been all over the internet lately, particularly on Instagram, where a whole movement has started using the hashtag #prefierochileno.  To read why to support local, read my Directory of Local Businesses where I whip out a few facts to convince you.

Check out websites Bendito and Creado en Chile to browse an assorted collection of locally made gifts, and don´t forget to use the hashtag when you share your photos!  You can also visit markets such as Mercado Mastica and places such as Barrio Italia (my favorite place in the world) and Pueblito Los Dominicos.  The following list of my favorite businesses are either ones I have personally bought from or that are on my radar, and all meet either made in Chile, designed in Chile or based in Chile criteria.

Let´s Go Christmas Shopping!!

  1. Painstakingly intricate maps, cushions and other trinkets handpainted by dedicated local artists at Mappin.
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Chile Urdido by Cote Bobillier. Photo: Mappin
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Nuestra Casa by Michelle Lasalvia. Photo: Mappin

2) Beautiful scarves, socks, bibs for adults and children by Vuelvo al Sur.

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Gloves featuring the Chucao. Photo: Vuelvo al Sur
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Mug featuring a huemul. Photo: Vuelvo al Sur

3) The LeoLibros book set, a varied collection of short stories in Spanish that seek to encourage a love of reading that will last a lifetime, by Editorial Dansema.

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4) Stackable crayons made for little hands that are non-toxic and won´t stain (or permanently mark your walls)? Sounds like an amazing gift for the whee ones!  Visit Hello Kiddo to get your hands on a set of Playon Crayons. Photos by Hello Kiddo.

5) Beautiful furniture made in Santiago by Blom and made with local materials including Lingue, Coigue and Encina. I am coveting everything especially their headboards. All photos by Blom.

6) 7 Colores is a recent discovery, and one of the finds that has most impressed me during my time in Chile. This small shop is in Barrio Italia and is the most beautiful treasure trove of handpainted gifts, all featuring Chilean flora and fauna. Staff are incredibly passionate about animals and they even publish their own wildlife magazine (in Spanish only); their goal is a simple one: to introduce Chile´s creatures and plants to the people and inspire their love and respect.

7) OBOLO chocolate have just opened their store in Barrio Italia, and here you also can see them making their delicious organic creations through the window that peeps into the factory. OBOLO, which is the creation of Mark Gerrits (USA) and his (Chilean) wife, is a wonderful example of how a business can create opportunities and deliver an excellent product; OBOLO is winning awards all over the world and produces only 70% cacao creations, sourced from small-scale growers in Peru that Mark has worked with for years.  All photos by OBOLO Chocolate.

8) One of my favorite businesses of all time would be Karun, which designs sunglasses made recycled jeans and fishing nets cleared from Chilean coastlines. Read more about their business here.

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Photo: Karunworld

9) TTANTI watches made from fallen trees in Patagonia. These are luxury, quality timepieces that suit both men and women.

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Photo: TTANTI

10) Ñirre Bebe is the work of a mum from Southern Chile, and her clothes for children are stunning. E is now completely in love with the zorro/ñirre/fox.  Read my interview here.

11) La Pituka is my favorite business in Chile. I love to exercise in their leggings, I also love to go to work with them on, and I love that now they are offering Chile-themed designs as well. They also make tshirts, underwear, sweatshirts and socks – kids included.

12) Apicola del Alba is my go-to for Made in Chile (in Curacavi!) skincare.  I use the face moisturiser every day and also their chamomile-based shampoo. They make various things including aromatherapy oils and vitamins.

13) Ramonas are beautifully-designed shoes for women (how I´d love a pair of their boots, Santa!) that are sold in Paris (Parque Arauco), the local fashion store Paes (Centro Comercial Lo Castillo, local 206) and via social media. These are cult favorite shoes so get a pair now! Photos: Ramonas

14) La Coetzina   you may remember from my blog the other day, but Adel gets another shout out because her things make me drool, seriously. I can´t wait to get my order in time for Christmas next week!! Photos by La Coetzina.

15) Attilio & Mochi is a small, independent vineyard located on the way to Tunquen and the creation of passionate winemakers, Angela and Marcos. Their range of wines perfectly encapsulate the spirit of the area and they also do tours and tastings if you want to make an afternoon of it.

 

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Photo: Attilio & Mochi

16) Kruz Toca Madera is where I am (pretty sure) my Christmas present will be coming from this year. These products are made in Chile using wood from fallen trees, they don´t use any plastic and plant a tree for every tree they use as part of their endeavour to make Patagonia clean and green.  Photos: Kruz Toca Madera.

17) Olive oil from Oro de Torca, a small family-run farm based near Laguna Torca, makes for one of the best gifts for foodies – they are even classed as the best fine olive oil in the Southern Hemisphere (Sol DÓro gold medal winner).  As an aside, they are also hosting Camp MakeMake which looks to be an amazing experience for kids this summer!

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Photo: Oro de Torca

18) Hubbard & Smith sausages are made with love and care by Kate Smith. She follows traditional recipes and offers Cumberland sausages, Hot Italian, English Breakfast and more, as well as bacon and ham. Photos: Hubbard and Smith.

19) RM Arte y Deco is a store that I stumbled upon in Barrio Italia and just loved. Staffed by the artist, Raul Montecino himself, there are beautiful paintings, laminated copies and tshirts he has stamped with his designs.

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20) Pajarito de Mimbre creates stories, toys and gifts based upon the animals of Chile. In our house we love El Large Viaje del Pequeño Pudu, a book that is as much educational as it is fun. Photos: Pajarito de Mimbre

21) Last on the list but equally deserving of mention, is Woligu, a new venture of handmade leather straps for cameras and guitars. Send a WhatsApp to: +56991377445

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Photo: Woligu

Did you like this? Give me some love if you did!! Please share your photos to Instagram using the hashtag #prefierochileno and don´t forget to let me know of any other businesses to check out! Finally have a WONDERFUL Christmas – thank you all for reading!!