THE STORY OF PAPERKRANE...
Putting the FUN in FUNctional footwear!
The PaperKrane brand was born in the whacky and offbeat mind of Kate Corleison, when she conceived of a high top baby bootie, aesthetically influenced by the origami crane. The brand’s origami crane influence stemmed from Kate’s love of the Japanese art of folding paper, which initially saw her creating paper crane mobiles and other decorative constructions, following on to the famous PaperKrane ‘Signature style’ bootie.
The main premise behind these unique and quirky original baby kicks was creating eye-catching soft sock-like shoes that would stay on babies’ feet whilst looking cool and not hindering the child’s physical development. PaperKrane booties started their lives at the helm of Kate’s single sewing machine, and their popularity grew as her unique shoe patterns were teamed with her natural flair for picking eye popping and one of a kind fabric combinations.
And while Kate was creating show stopping and eye popping baby booties, armed with her double degree in Commerce (Marketing) and Law, Zara Cooper commenced her legal career at a top tier law firm, whilst simultaneously balancing the birth of her first child and part time study in Fashion Design. After the birth of her second child, Zara decided to channel her entrepreneurial desires into her own law firm, giving her a taste of running a business and confirming what she’d always known to be true - her destiny was to build her own company and to put her personal stamp on the world.
Zara discovered PaperKrane shortly after the arrival of her third child and immediately fell in love with Kate’s incredible designs! Like everyone else at the time, Zara battled it out at drop time in order to be one of the lucky ones to secure a pair of Kate’s kicks prior to their selling out in a matter of seconds! Not long after securing her first pair of PaperKrane booties, and building a friendship with Kate, Zara’s could see that PaperKrane would be the perfect way for her to combine her entrepreneurial instincts and business and legal background, with her love of creativity and fashion. In late 2015, it was Zara who approached Kate and suggested an expansion of PaperKrane into a global footwear company, designing and manufacturing shoes not only for babies, but for older children and beyond. Zara believed that creating PaperKrane shoes with rubber soles suitable for growing children, was the way forward. And thus the duo’s partnership began….
Starting small at first, Kate and Zara joined forces with a small sheepskin boot factory in Melbourne, in order to create PaperKrane kicks (lovingly known as PKs by the ever growing cult-like customer community) with harder wearing suede soles. And while Kate continued sewing the uppers, photographing the finished products and managing the social media account, Zara assisted with turning out shoes, packaging and posting out the PKs, whilst simultaneously networking with the right bigwigs in the Australian footwear industry, including the Director of footwear design at a major Melbourne university, a retired pattern maker and one of the most renowned last makers in the world. Zara sought an avenue to take PaperKrane to the next level and eventually this led the pair to a factory in Vietnam, one which tickled Kate and Zara’s fancies on account of it being not only a happy and fair workplace, but for its Australian roots and respect for the original handmade shoe techniques which would pay homage to the grassroots beginnings of PaperKrane.
Kate and Zara visited Vietnam at least four times a year, playing a very hands-on role in the development of ‘big PKs’, and together with their new found Vietnamese shoe friends, set out to create kicks that were optimal for developing and growing feet. The PK rubber cupsole, bearing the pair’s aptly named ‘Four F’s’ (flexible, flat, feather light and foot shaped) was born, and at the end of 2016 it came time to release the very first fashion forward, Australian designed and quirky as F, barefoot shoes!
ABOVE | Two of the original sample pairs of rubber (FLEXI) soled PKs, now named HoLeo MoLeo, and Acid Rain..
Since then, Kate and Zara have continued to visit their factory in Vietnam several times a year, always ensuring that they have a close and personal relationship with those who lovingly make their PKs, and that wastage is minimised and as many local components as possible are sourced. ‘We really are involved with every single aspect of the process, from our week long brain sizzling design meetings, the sampling process, fitting, quality control, flying back and forth to our factory to ensure things are running smoothly and every component of our shoes, from fabrics, leather, stitching, details, and colours, are on point! In addition to this we run every element of this global business singlehandedly between the two of us! Shoe design, fabric design, Legal, Accounting, website design and maintenance, image and content creation, copywriting, social media, photography, advertising, networking, customer service, wholesale, worldwide shipping and logistics, distribution, collaborations, licensing, sourcing and marketing strategy and execution. There is nothing that happens in PaperKrane that Kate and I don’t personally have a hand in!’ (Zara)
Since its release in 2016 their ‘bigger kids’ shoes range has also naturally expanded into even ‘BIGGER kids’ with women's sizes joining the ranks in 2019, and in mid 2022 a further expansion into mens’ sizes. The demand for barefoot shoes that are fun, fashionable and unique as well as ideal for optimal foot health has continued to grow, and along the road dozens of stores around the four corners of the globe including Europe, the UK, the US, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand and of course Australia, have begun stocking PKs!
Kate and Zara continue to grow and expand the business, always putting their ‘love of foot health without sacrificing fashion’ motto first and of course always ensuring that they use their brand to make a positive FOOTPRINT. 2021 saw the introduction of their ‘Soles with Soul’ styles, whereby PaperKrane works closely with artists and celebrities to create limited edition kicks that raise awareness and funds for important charities around the world. So far PaperKrane has donated to the ONJ (Olivia Newton John) foundation, Pretty Foundation, Minus18 youth and Currumbin Wildlife Hospital with many more in store!
No matter where PaperKrane goes and what the future holds, one thing is for certain, PaperKrane will always rest on a whole heap of nonsense, whacky ideas, inappropriateness and laughter which is brought about by the unique partnership of its co-founders, Kate and Zara.