Photos courtesy of Nate Michielson

Pride, not a luxury

Minnesota footwear company Otabo partners with Project for Pride in Living

By Hannah Wagener
Mon, 2017-05-15 12:30

In today’s culture, it’s hard to ignore that one’s outward appearance has a big impact in the workplace, especially in first impressions. While many Minnesotans are privileged to own quality, professional attire, it’s a luxury not afforded to all. Minnesota-based footwear manufacturer Otabo is working to change that. Teaming with Project for Pride in Living, Otabo is donating over $25,000 worth of high-end dress shoes to low-income Minnesotans to prepare them for job interviews and more.

For CEO Sabrina Finlay, it began as a family initiative. Finlay started the company with her brother, Ryan Shaffer, taking the name from their father’s old footwear company. Finlay recalls her dad hiring employees who needed the extra boost in employment, those with full capability and wherewithal to have the job, but just weren’t getting the access because of not looking the part. Enter Project for Pride in Living and leather dress shoes.

“It’s meaningful for us because of what my father did,” Finlay explains. “We made these shoes that he designed a while back.”

And speaking of the shoes, Finlay describes them as “designed to last your entire life.”

“The shoe is really difficult to make and all handmade,” she says. “It’s basically a shoe that our master craftsmen in our workshop practice on.”

Finlay describes finding the opportunity for a meaningful donation to Project for Pride in Living as a lucky coincidence. “We’ve started exploring ways to help the community in general,” Finlay says, something that both her business and family want to continue going forward. “Making things that fit within our inventory and seeing how we can help and contribute.”