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Walk the walk with Bucketfeet

Spring came a little late in Chicago, but now that it’s finally here all the city folk are shedding their winter bulk and personal sense of style is more alive on the streets than ever. A great way I’ve noticed men and women are adding flair to their outfits is through their footwear.

Whether it’s a pair of neon yellow pumps or a chic military lace-up boots, shoes are a great way to channel self-expression.

As a shoe-lover myself I always appreciate when somebody brings an innovation into the game so I was beyond thrilled to learn about BucketFeet, a website that offers one-of-a-kind, artist-designed footwear that you can’t find in stores.

I spoke to Co-Founder Raaja Nemani about how the company came about, what they’re doing to help give local artists exposure and why I need to buy ten pairs, stat.



How did BucketFeet get started?

My Co-Founder Aaron customized shoes for fun and people liked them so he would occasionally sell them. In 2008 he moved to Argentina to pursue photography. Around the same time I was working in finance banking and I hated it so I quit to go backpacking around the world.

I went to 25 countries and in my travels I ended up volunteering in a slum in Argentina and Aaron was in my volunteer group. I saw his designs and loved them and before we parted ways he ended up giving me a customized pair of Chuck Taylors.

I wore those shoes throughout the rest of my trip and everywhere I went people commented on them.

We ended up reconnecting in 2010 when I messaged him on Facebook and proposed that we both quit what we’re doing, move back to Chicago and create a brand that was all about finding talented artists to create original footwear. He agreed and we launched Bucketfeet in 2011.



How do you find artists?

Aaron spent a good deal of time in Argentina working on an art project in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. He sought out talented streets artists, shadowed them for weeks and held an exhibit of their work in a rich neighborhood of the same city.

He showed how art was universal, how it connected people and how it gave people personal connections to the pieces.

Because of his projects he has a great network of artists that we’ve reached out to, but as we get more well-known the inbound traffic increases and we find artists that way as well.

Our artists are paid upfront for their designs and then they make a commission off every pair of shoes sold.

We are in the middle of a competition to find “The Next Bucketfeet Artist,” where artists can submit their work. The contest wraps on May 3, but then we’ll narrow down the options and open it up to our community to vote on their favorite finalists under the “#NextBucketFeetArtist” hashtag on social media.  

What’s next for BucketFeet?

We’re looking to introduce a kid’s line this summer as well as new shoe styles and branded apparel.

Our immediate goals are to build awareness, develop a strong web presence and begin penetrating new markets. We’re looking to hire a graphic designer and a community manager to help us with artist outreach. 




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Gabrielle Belavsky
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