Oh Joy

{field trip} zuzii studio...
15 Jan 2015

Zuzii Shoe Studio

Zuzii Shoe Studio

As a designer and small business owner, I have a true love and appreciation of seeing how other small businesses are run. Whenever I have an opportunity to visit the studio of a fellow maker, it’s a serious treat. In partnership with American Express, we recently visited the new Downtown LA studio of Zuzii, a family-owned and operated shoemaker that makes beautiful, handmade shoes. I brought along my little sidekick (and shoe-lover) so she could see the shoe-making process in action.

Zuzii Shoe Studio

Zuzii Shoe Studio

Zuzii Shoe Studio

I first learned about Zuzii last year and have loved following their growth ever since. What started as a kid’s shoe line has now evolved to a brand with items for grown-ups, too. Ruby loved seeing all the shoe samples and all the materials that go into making the shoes.

And because I am always so fascinated by how each business runs differently, I asked Ryan, Alex, Nickie Campbell (a mother and two daughters) a few things about how it all comes together…

Zuzii Shoe Studio

What’s your biggest joy in being a small business?

We love our connection with our customers. All of our management and production is done by the three of us, so we really get to be consumed by the entire process including interacting with our customers. We have so many wonderful customers that show us love on a daily basis. Our favorites are those wonderful customers who take time to send us a photo just to tell us how much they love their new shoes. It truly is a special experience for us to be able to take the order, craft the shoes, pack and ship, and a few days later be able to see them on the customers feet. I know it is said often, but we really couldn’t do it without them. As a small business we also have a unique opportunity to really get to know our customers (especially thanks to social media). We have so many long-term customers who have been around since the early days. Zuzii has basically grown up along with some of them, it makes it such a sweet experience considering our start as an infant shoe brand. 

Zuzii Shoe Studio

What are the pluses and minuses of having a family-run small business?

We are all equal co-owners of Zuzii, which is a great thing but at some points also makes things a little challenging. It was really important to us that we make collective decisions between the three of us. We have many commonalities that can sometimes overlap and make things tricky, but for the most part we all have our own strengths that complement each other and allow us to work together to figure things out and get things done. It took a couple years to get used to working together inside this setting, but it has bonded us in a way I think most families don’t ever get the opportunity to. 

Zuzii Shoe Studio

Are you inspired by customer feedback/requests when creating new designs?

This has been a key part of growing our business. When we began Zuzii we only had intentions of creating infant shoes, it was a lot of thanks to our customers who pushed and drove us to continually expand our size range. It was funny, every time we launched a new size we would immediately have customers coming back and asking us for even more! We launched our Women’s line this past summer, and almost immediately we had requests for a men’s line which is now in the works for this coming summer!

Zuzii Shoe Studio

Thanks so much to the Campbell family for giving us a peek into their wonderful world!

This post is in partnership with American Express – committed to connecting small merchants to more customers through the Shop Small® movement. 

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

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