There are stories behind certain brands that are just more special than others. The story behind Sandlovers is one of those. As serendipity would have it, the founder of Sandlovers and the Editor-in-Chief from FAB L’Style, bumped into each other one day. Each with their own passion to bring the talent of artisans in Africa to the limelight of the world stage, they quickly discovered their like-mindedness.
Founded two years ago, the lifestyle brand, Sandlovers, is selling handcrafted shoes and accessories from Kenya. It is Sandlovers mission to share the feeling of comfort and warmth of Africa with its breathtaking flip-flop collection while promoting products truly handmade with love and passion by people in Kenya.
Founder Tanja Sauer, a German fashion entrepreneur, fell in love with the Kenyan country in 2014 when she lived there for 9 months, for private matters. January 2014 was her first visit to Kenya and she was not at all prepared. She knew very little about the country or the people. During her first visit, it was not possible for her to travel outside of the country, yet truly, there were moments when she was desperate to return to Germany. But eventually, when the time actually came to move back to Germany nine months later, she had lost her heart to the warm people, the colors of mother nature, and the feeling of everyday life, where every day counts. She knew then, that her experience in Kenya had changed her life forever.
Tanja flew back to Germany, but knew she would come back, again and again, for holidays. Remembering the local artisans producing hand-made shoes and accessories, she figured that bringing those hand-made products to Europe would be an amazing venture and a great business idea. So in 2017, she founded the fashion label Sandlovers. After the first year, it was already clear that European people loved the colorful hand-made products from Kenya.
Sandlovers is working together with well-known local artisans from the south coast, providing them a chance to bring their unique workpieces to the European market, while selling well-selected products online. Sandlovers is already represented and shop-windowed in high-class retail shops in major cities in Germany as well as Austria, Spain, and Belgium, which is a story unto itself after only two years.
Little by little, and step by step, Tanja Sauer dreams of a worldwide label, adding the expression of the people and her partners in Kenya, ‘pole to pole’. Providing 100% quality in the colorful flip-flops before shipment to Europe, Tanja states, “It was very motivating for us after presenting our first collection to the wider retail market in Europe, to see our clients gratefully returning with orders for our second season and to hear that we were highly recommended to other retailers.”
Tanja also has a clear vision for Sandlovers. “We want to expand our lifestyle brand slowly – from one country to another. But we will never compromise on quality. If our expansion takes us three years, fine. If our journey takes us 5 years, even better. Our journey will never stop, just like our heart will always remain in beautiful Kenya.”
Tanja describes the set-up of Sandlovers as a dream job combining the passion for a piece of mother nature with a passion for fashion. “Working in Kenya personally with our local artisans’ filters back so much energy. Seeing the artisans motivation and witnessing how committed they are to the quality of their work makes me confident that we are only at the very beginning of our success story.”
To manufacture a Flip-Flop sandal in the old traditional way, with all the beading on top, is a long and detailed process, but people in Europe value the artwork. “Our clients are so impressed by the handwork and professional finish – many of them tell us that it is the highest quality leather flip-flop they’ve ever seen.” The flagship store in Berlin, which is open between May and September in the BIKINI Shopping Mall, receives exceptional feedback. It is Sandlovers passion for quality and color that sets them apart, yet Tanja says that type of positive feedback “really gives our whole team a big boost to improve and get a little better every day with each pair of Sandlovers flip-flops.”