In 2003 two mothers turned a spontaneous idea into a successful company
[Berlin, August 8th, 2018] When their own offspring was still young, Franziska Kuntze and Verena Carney did not find any shoes for their children that satisfied the demands of the two mothers: They were intended to provide comfortable, soft protection for children, have an appealing modern design and be ecological, fair and – if possible – made in Germany. So they decided to bring such shoes on the market.
From a Berlin Christmas market stand to the world market
During a joint spaghetti meal, the two of them, Franziska as business economist and Verena as fashion and shoe designer, decided to start their own business and make their own shoes.
The first small POLOLO collection with six different motifs was sewn in Carney’s own cellar with her private sewing machine and Kuntze then successfully sold it at a Christmas market in Berlin-Zehlendorf.
Shortly thereafter the first trade fair followed: At the “International Natural Textile Fair” the POLOLO collection was presented to retailers. From autumn 2003 on, POLOLO children’s shoes have been available at special shoe shops.
Today, the POLOLO collection comprises more than 100 models, a diverse collection of ecological home and street shoe styles has been created, and the team has grown to over 20 employees. More than 800 retailers and trading partners distribute POLOLOs in Europe, the USA and Asia.
POLOLO stands for ecologically and fairly produced children’s shoes
Greenpeace also was convinced by the idea very early: In November 2004, the environmentalists awarded the POLOLO model “Moby the Whale” with the label “particularly ecologically and socially acceptable product”.
The Berlin-based company no longer manufactures in a private cellar, but in its own manufactory in a former Puma production hall in Oberreichenbach near Herzogenaurach (Bavaria / Franconia), which is managed by Carney. Creating local jobs in Franconia as well as at the Berlin headquarters and maintaining the know-how for the production of shoes “Made in Germany” is very important to the two executive directors.
The “MINI & MAXI” collection is produced by a cooperation partner in Spain according to the designs and quality standards of the two entrepreneurs.
Commitment to sustainable and healthy shoes
Kuntze has also been a member of the Executive Board of the International Association of Natural Textiles e.V. (IVN) since 2011, where she advocates the implementation of globally valid environmental and social standards in the footwear and leather industry.
POLOLO has been certified according to the “IVN natural leather” standard since March 2012: It demands a transparent and ecologically sustainable supply chain with annual auditing, sets strictest standards of ingredients and excludes industrial tanning processes with heavy metals – especially with chrome – for health and ecological reasons.
For the production of leather shoes, POLOLO uses only vegetable tanned cow skin from Germany. In January 2012 the European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation (ECARF) awarded the POLOLO leather shoe collection the ECARF seal “Allergy-friendly / Quality-tested” for the first time. ECARF certifies only products that are fully adjusted to the needs of allergy sufferers and people with sensitive skin.
In addition, some of the POLOLOs are certified to “BioKreis”. The “Moccasin” style is manufactured exclusively from skins of controlled biological animal husbandry. POLOLO meets the highest ecological and health requirements. Kuntze and Carney have pursued this approach since the founding of the company in 2003.
Protection for small feet – “Made in Germany”
Much of the collection is handmade in Germany (all “SOFT” styles) according to the designs of Verena Carney.
Franziska Kuntze: “We are delighted with the interest shown by customers and visitors, to whom we can show our own production during tours. Transparency throughout the manufacturing process is very important to us. We had this goal right from the start: healthy and beautiful children’s shoes from sustainable production!”
POLOLOs are always produced from vegetable-tanned pesticide-free nappa leather – they are uncoated and therefore particularly breathable and soft. Based on high wearing comfort and tested skin compatibility, they support the healthy child development.