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A Chat with Evan Streusand, Founder of Fortress of Inca

08.15.2016 by: Beth Stockwell Vanderkolk
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Located in a cheerful little shop shared with Jack and Lola, Fortress of Inca brings free-spirited, creative Peruvian shoes and accessories to Austin. We sat down with Evan Streusand, founder of Fortress of Inca to chat about the business!

Evan, founder of Fortress of Inca

How did you get started with Fortress of Inca?
Evan: After I graduated from college, I took a 3-month backpacking trip around South America. Toward the end of my trip a friend took me into a boot shop in Cusco, Peru, where I ended up buying a pair of handmade boots for myself that incorporated handwoven Peruvian textiles and leather. After owning and wearing these boots around Austin for about 5 years and hearing a lot of positive feedback, I eventually decided that I should try and bring this unique style to the USA. I booked a trip back to Peru and the rest is history.

Fortress of Inca shop off of S. 1st

How would you describe the Fortress of Inca vibe?
Evan: I like the term 'structured bohemian.'

How often do you get back to Peru to visit with the people who make the products?
Evan: I go about once a year, but I have a business partner who is there more often. I spend a lot of time on the phone with our designers down there... our process is very collaborative.

Are your artisans working in fair conditions in Peru?
Evan: Yes! This is one of the pillars of our business. We personally audit all of our factories before working with them, and on top of that, Peru has strong labor regulations. Our workers have paid maternity leave, social security and health care for themselves and their families, among other things. If we can't make products in a way that is sustainable for the people making them, then we shouldn't be making them at all. We like to say that the people who make our shoes are just as important as the people who buy them.

Tell us a little about the materials you use.
Evan: We use natural materials - leather, rubber, wood - that are native to the region where our shoes are produced. The leather we use is actually a byproduct of the meat industry, so if it wasn't being used to produce our shoes or similar products, then it would end up in a landfill and be harmful to the environment. We use materials that are built to last. We don't want to sell you something that will end up in the trash 6 months from now. Our goal is to make shoes that will last for years and years, out of the best materials that we can find.

High quality, well-made Peruvian shoes

What can we expect to see next from Fortress of Inca?
Evan: More shoes. Better shoes. A continued effort to produce shoes in a way that is sustainable, both in regard to materials and to our incredible artisans who make them. We'd like to continue to set a good example for others to follow and we hope that people will continue to appreciate our efforts to make shoes the right way. 

Fortress of Inca shoes and accessories

We can't wait to be a part of the Fortress of Inca future here in Austin! Thanks Evan!

{Fortress of Inca Official Website}

TAGS : South Lamar/South First , Fortress of Inca