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How Kids Shoes Inspired Zuzii's Founders to Bring Back Manufacturing in LA

Zuzii

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From tons of indie retail therapy to sustainable fashion to light-up kicks and more, stylish tots are seriously so spoiled these days. Adding to their locally-made wardrobe options is Zuzii, an LA-made footwear label that crafts adorable steppers for shoe fiends from zero to 16 and up.

Founded by designer sisters Ryan and Alex Campbell and their mother, Nicki, the brand's current line ($50 to $120) includes ridiculously adorable oxfords, mary janes, sandals, loafers and high tops from luxe leather and suede. After fawning over their soft-hued newborn booties and more (clearly, everything is cuter when they're miniaturized), we at down with the stylish siblings to find out how Zuzii was born, how the brand hopes to encourage more made-in-LA activity, where the sisters shop, and more.

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What was the a-ha moment that led to the creation of Zuzii?

Alex and Ryan: When we realized that no one domestically could produce our shoes for us at our desired price point. We decided if we were going to do this, we needed to start a manufacturer here.

Did that change the way you did business and manufacturing?

Our current production uses a lot of very primitive equipment; much of which has been built or modified by us as the tools for this trade are not readily available in the US. So each time we find another piece of equipment that will increase production, we have another a-ha moment!

Our first goal when starting Zuzii was to create a classic unisex shoe style, using the highest quality materials and minimal components to allow them to be produced in the US, and that was engineered for kids while still being lightweight and flexible to allow for growth.

[Now] our end goal is to operate a fully mechanized footwear factory in Downtown Los Angeles and then start opening our factory to others who want to start a line or need help with sample development.

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How did you get into designing for kids?

Alex and Ryan: Our mother (Nickie Campbell) is the inventor of the Ansa Baby bottle, so we grew up in the children's industry, design, photoshoots, production, and fulfillment warehouses. This, combined with our backgrounds in industrial design and graphic design we innately come from a very product driven mindset. We always try to make something different, and if we can't make it different we try and make it better.

We will also admit their are very few entirely original ideas, each is simply a combination of exposure and experience. But for us, the US market is so oversaturated with cheaply-made footwear, using low-quality materials.

Any plans to venture out of footwear?

Alex and Ryan: Not at this time, There are so many designs we want to produce and we have such big plans for our shoe factory. We currently only sell direct to consumer. Very soon we are planning a new stock program in order to open back up to retailers. In the distant future we plan to open a full footwear factory right in the heart of LA.

We can't tell you how many people contact us to produce or to help them sample their footwear line. There is a huge need for this in the US and once we get this equipment in place we can begin to help other sample or run pre-productions.

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Sisters Alex and Ryan Campbell at Zuzii Footwear's HQ.

Where are a few of your favorite places to shop in LA?

Ryan: For inspiration I love spending a day at Hennessey + Ingalls [in Santa Monica] or visiting Gagosian Gallery. Coming from a background in product design, I love design driven product stores I stop in OK Gallery and A+R regularly just to look at all the beautiful products.

On the east side [of town], I'm so happy that Sweet William is finally in LA, we have been fans of her curated kids items for some time! On the west side, Poppy Store is one of our favorite kids shops in LA, they carry such a beautiful collection of brands.