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Shopping for school shoes is rarely an enjoyable experience. So when 18 children from CareSouth’s Permanency Support Program were gifted beautifully packaged, quality leather school shoes from Bulli business ELOISE and HENRY it was hard to know who was more excited, the carers or the kids.

Antonia Irwin is the creative brains behind the ELOISE and HENRY brand (named after her school-age children) and generously chose CareSouth as a partner when she discovered the organisation shares the same values and vision.

“Our global vision is to support disadvantaged children to overcome adversity and flourish,” said Antonia. “So we started locally and partnered with CareSouth to provide school shoes for children who might not get the joy of receiving beautifully packaged, quality shoes.

“We understand this is a small gesture, but hopefully from little things big things will grow and one day we’ll be able to do more for those children who have simply had a start in life that no child should endure.”

Antonia came up with the idea for the ELOISE and HENRY collection when shopping with her daughter for her first pair of school shoes.

“The excitement of buying our first pair of school shoes quickly turned to dismay when we saw the ugly lumps of poorly crafted leather on display,” said Antonia.

“As a mum, nothing on the shelves offered value for money and for Eloise, everything was either heavy, ugly or hot or often all three. Eloise refused to wear any of them and I refused to buy into an industry that overcharged for poor quality leather and outdated style.”

So, in typical parent-as-problem-solver fashion, she took matters into her own hands and created the kinds of shoes she remembered wearing as a child. Antonia began sourcing craftspeople who could bring her vision to life – functional, comfortable, beautiful shoes with a vintage feel that were made to last using quality leather and sustainable practices.

“Our school shoes hark back to a time when they were made to last and promised parents value for money,” said Antonia. Our shoes last the distance and are designed to withstand kicking balls and getting scraped on concrete,” said Antonia. “

“Growing up in New Zealand I knew of a shoe crafting workshop still run by the same family. They put quality and children’s feet before marketing and agreed to work with us to produce a shoe that was light, good value for money and stylish.”

After 12 months of product development - learning about leather, sourcing buckles from Italy and discovering how unsustainable the fashion industry can be - ELOISE and HENRY launched their first collection in 2018. And the shoes flew off the shelf.

Sustainability and social inclusion are as important to Antonia’s business as comfort and functionality.

“I want Eloise and Henry to be proud of the company I have named after them,” said Antonia. “And part of that is ensuring that the environment doesn’t suffer for our profits. We achieve extremely low wastage (our insoles are the cut-offs from other styles) and a low carbon footprint.

“We are also passionate about social inclusion. Our motto is ‘Supporting Little Feet Carry Big Dreams’ and we want to be able to do that for children from all walks of life, which is why we have partnered with CareSouth.”

For more information about ELOISE and HENRY shoes visit www.eloiseandhenry.com

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