At the core of Zapateria’s mission is to establish a new movement that furthers local artistry and craftsmanship in the shoe industry, and to celebrate its rich history through awareness and appreciation together with the different members of the community.
During the prime of shoe manufacturing and export in Marikina, the founders’ forefathers played a crucial role in the industry's growth. In 2016, the family was met with a dilemma when Rico suffered an accident. Unyx faced the reality that other than her father, there was no one else to continue their family’s heritage of shoemaking. After five generations of shoemakers, despite the humbling experience of going through the highs and lows in the industry, Unyx and Rico decided that it was time to impart the craft to a new breed talents and reawaken interest in shoemaking beyond the bloodline.
Inspired by the concept of reigniting the interest in the shoe industry, the father and daughter tandem founded Zapateria. Now, the Sta. Anas are working with a new breed of footwear designer-makers from all over the country and even outside the Philippines. The cycle of learning among the members continue to bring the craft into a new light, expressing that even in humble beginnings and whether the tough gets going, passion can make a vision into a reality especially when everyone can come together and help one another for the love of Marikina and shoes.
Zapateria loves to work with the shoemaking community, focusing on building the creative talents in the footwear sector. It is based in Marikina, although engagements span across other places such as Makati, Laguna, Cebu, and Davao. For
them, it is important to maintain the traditional practice of the craft while also being able to innovate it to match the modernity of the industry. Innovation does not necessarily mean incorporating digital capabilities alone but it is also practiced on the way of design thinking and through cultural shift for a more growth mindset.
Imparting knowledge and the new formed culture built on values such as respect, trust, empathy, creativity, collaboration and camaraderie to the next generation of designer-makers is one of Zapateria’s main goals. The expertise, know-how and heart of their skilled artisans are generously taught to the new members. They introduce activities in the community such as Value Formation, Shoe Design X History, Design Sprint, and Shoemaking Live. The team also participates in projects such as the Filipino Footwear Design Competition and the International Footwear Design Competition together with the Philippine Footwear Federation, Inc. (PFFI) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
The mentorship and apprenticeship programs also include working with respective partner manufacturers to take on original design practices and better product development, skills that will benefit the industry as a whole one shoe at a time.
In an industry that continues to thrive, a community of sharing is what Zapateria as a hub wishes to cultivate. The Collaboratory represents a new breed of designer-makers that uphold the same principles that have been kept sacred by the generations before them. It is a constant cycle of learning for the members and partners that consist of the well-seasoned and the fresh youth, all varying in training and background.
With this in mind, Zapateria organized the “Collaboratory”: a collaboration laboratory for the creatives that celebrate their diverse identities and allows each of them to learn from one another.
The Zapateria Collaboratory: First Edition features designer-makers such as Rico Sta. Ana, Maco Custodio, Thian Rodriguez, Roweliza Landicho, Steffy de Mylo, Motherland, Sheila de Jesus, Buddy Tan, Mia Santos, Mara Piñon, and Joco Comendador.
The Artisanry represents the artisan artistry that has been passed down from generation to generation. Behind each member is a level of mastery and expertise of the craft. They serve as the backbone of Zapateria’s mentorship programs and ensures that each output is of the highest standard.
The artisans serve as mentors for the Collaboratory. This system of knowledge transfer completes a cycle of shared learning between the two parties, blending seamlessly the traditional making with innovation. Future programs such as the Vanguardian will highlight the Artisanry as they spearhead the training of new designer-makers who will play the role of apprentice during the mentorship.
The Artisanry features the expertise of veteran craftsmen such as: Ester Sta. Ana, Arnanie Pogoy, Iping Bosito, Abet Lorenzo, Rissa Soriano, Ed San Andres, Rene Santos. Temia Marcelo, Bernie Dancel and Cezar Paz headed by Zapateria founder Rico Sta. Ana.