Folks We Love with Ryan Campbell of Zuzii Footwear
Tell us a little bit about your journey and how you’ve come to arrive here:
Zuzii is owned and operated my Myself (Ryan), Sister (Alex), and our Mother (Nick). Our mom invented the ANSA baby bottles in her early 20’s (now housed in MOMAs permanent collection), we had the awesome privilege of being raised in an environment of innovation, design, and manufacturing.
I was educated at SCAD in Industrial Product Design and my sister in Graphic Design from OTIS. After spending time in China during college and working for a LA design house overseeing their Chinese productions I sympathized with the factory workers and knew there had to be a better way to produce goods. Our answer was to ethically manufacture in the USA using high quality materials. Collectively we brought our skills together to create ZUZII
Who’s in your family? Ages? Names?
Nickie Campbell (mom), Ryan (30) , Alex (25)
How did your Mom come up with your names?
She has always been the most capable woman we know 🙂 From trades like blacksmithing and baking, to growing her own company. She instilled in us pride in being a capable women, so says she wanted us to have strong names. An unforeseen benefit… since everything is via email now, we often get preferred treatment from vendors and suppliers as they think we are men 😉 It is a fascinating phenomenon.
Los Angeles Ca
Industrial designer, Product designer, Graphic/UX Designer, Shoemakers 😉
What’s on your manifest board?
A large factory, more production lines, and more machines! We are proudly crafted by women for women, and strive to always remain so. We have nestled our new studio in the Valley and look forward to expanding and training more women in the trade as we grow.
Tell us some of your most loved ways to spend the day with your clan?
Creating something, or anything 🙂 Our studio is in no short supply of craft supplies, machinery and tools collected over years and years of making. So most all Saturdays and Sundays you can find us ladies in our studio where my sister is working on a new website for zuzii.com, my mom and I are working on something new, or we are renovating our old print shop turned shoe factory. Always a new project in progress.
What are some silly/fun things that your mom does or says?
Still to this day be careful, watch your back, maintain your dignity & text me when you get there. Any time we leave the office 😉
When you were a teenager what did you dream of? Do things look different?
Most definitely, even from my 20s to 30s the consumer/product landscape has changed. I always wanted to create products but the way in which we are able to connect to customers has provided us the opportunity to start our own company. Past generations were not afforded this opportunity as easily. To reach the masses, you needed a network of retailers. Since we can reach our customers directly we can offer a higher quality product at honest prices.
Where do your passions lie?
In changing the way people relate to the products they purchase. We work very hard to locate the best quality raw materials from around the world, many of them decades old family owned businesses. I can proudly say that they all are passionate about what they do, and the product they produce. Which only impassions us to produce quality products using their materials. To put it simply when quality, sustainability, and people are more important than money it gives a deeper meaning to the word value and we believe there is extraordinary value in ethically produced goods. Which is a passion we are always working on communicating to our customers.
Has starting a business changed your relationships?
Like nothing else could have, this has forced us all to be incredibly transparent, if we have an issue we voice it and move forward. I think it has built an enormous amount of trust and respect between all of us
What are some of your favorite life lessons you’ve grown to love? (even if learning them at the time was hard)
When something doesn’t want to be, I shouldn’t be. Sometimes in product development it is a struggle every step of the way, we have found not forcing something that does not want to be is the best way.
And alternatively when a product wants to be, all the components will fall in to place naturally.
What do you wish you could’ve told yourself when you were a teenager?
-The desire to always do better will never go away.
-Take some business classes, trust me you’ll need em’
What do you want your future kids to learn about the world?
That holistically all living beings are equal, and deserve to be treated equally.
We hope to see labor reform to enable all workers globally to make a standard living wage. Which will also help to provide US citizens the ability to compete in the manufacturing landscape again.
What are 4 things you can’t live without?
-we all make a whole lot of noise in our workshop, so our soundproof headphones for sure 🙂
-and the internet 😉 (obviously)