Wearwell's co-founder Emily Kenney chats with Peter Sacco, Founder + CEO of Adelante, based in Pastores, Guatemala. They chat about how he founded a brand that combines ethical practices with a sustainable business model and what a living wage means to Adelante’s craftspeople.
Emily Kenney: What motivated you to start Adelante?
Peter Sacco: I started Adelante because I wanted to create fair wage opportunities for people in Latin America. Why Latin America? Honestly, for no reason other than the region grabbed my attention first. I was lucky enough to begin visiting Latin America in high school on a couple of family vacation and surf trips, and I quickly became fascinated with the history of the region and enamored with its people and culture.
After college, I lived between Honduras, Guatemala, and Belize for two years while working various non-profit jobs. Those experiences left me intrigued by the potential of for-profit business to sustainably elevate people’s lives, so I returned to Boston to go to graduate school and began working on the business plan for Adelante.
Five years later, Adelante’s mission continues to fuel me. When the finance reviews, marketing KPIs, and business development meetings become too much, I invite one of our craftspeople to lunch and ask what Adelante has done for them. It’s always energizing to reconnect with our team and mission.
Emily: How did your interest in ethical fashion begin?
Peter: It began when I moved from San Pedro Sula in Honduras, the land of sweatshops, to Pastores, Guatemala, where handcrafted footwear remains alive and well. I started Adelante around a social impact mission, but we’ve since expanded that mission to include environmental sustainability. We work with the most sustainable tanneries in the Western Hemisphere, and one of the reasons I’ve always loved Adelante’s made-to-order model is that it inherently minimizes waste.
Emily: We'd love to hear more about Adelante's impact. What makes the made-to-order model different from other shoe brands?
Peter: Adelante’s made-to-order production model enables us to offer customers a much broader spectrum of sizes than other brands, and draw a direct connection from cobbler-to-customer with authentic content direct from our workshop in Guatemala.
When it comes to impact, not only do we personally know our craftspeople and work alongside them daily, but all Adelante craftspeople earn over what we call the Living Well Line. The Living Well Line is a social impact model that we created to define the relative cost of living well here in Pastores, Guatemala. Put simply, Adelante craftspeople earn enough to consume the goods and services that they have defined as necessary to live well. That ends up being more than double the local market rate.
Emily: Wow, that’s fantastic. I especially love that Adelante’s craftspeople were directly involved in defining what it means to live well. Shifting gears a little, what inspires Adelante’s shoe designs?
Peter: Cultural and style trends meets Pastores’ long tradition of shoemaking and a commitment to premium artisanship.
Emily: That all shines through in Adelante’s designs. In 3 words, how do you describe your brand’s aesthetic?
Peter: Timeless, elegant, vibrant.
Emily: What are your must-have styles from Adelante’s women’s collection?
Peter: The Granada (it’s been our women’s bestseller since day 1), The Elena (this is one of my favorite styles), and The Condesa (we offer more than a dozen calf sizes in this style).
Emily: Great choices! What’s next for Adelante - any exciting initiatives or growth that you’re looking forward to?
Peter: We’re really excited to develop additional partnerships like this one with wearwell, and just continue to grow our brand and the impact we’re making in our craftspeople’s lives!