Our Story

From my teenage hood, I got interested in sewing. I started making my clothes by copying patterns directly from the clothes I had and eventually, I started making my own patterns and dresses from scratch. I liked being able to design exactly the clothes that I wanted instead of having to buy clothes I didn’t like. As my mother taught me about the beauty of things and my dad taught me about how things were built, I was always seeking to combine beauty and functionality.

I started to study applied arts and got led to the most prestigious industrial design school in Paris. It didn’t take longer than a year for my eyes to be opened to the reality of the industrial world: productivism and profit were ruling over social and environmental care. Even as a freelancer, it would have taken me decades to eventually overcome the big machine. Overall, there was no way I could accept to compromise and waste my creative talents for selfish sponsors and their stupid demands. I was disgusted and left the school. I was just 20 years old.

I went straight from Paris to the deepest jungle in Indonesia, trying to live with as little as I could. I thought that with a small group of people, we could rebuild a “healthy” civilization, living as close to nature as possible. But a hard reality check hit me - after 6 months, my savings ran out and I was obliged to come home. I got back to small jobs that were very distasteful. My family had turned their back on me because I had stopped my studies and I felt very lost and alone.

After 6 months, I was able to fly back to Indonesia with very little savings. I had the agreement of doing a design job for the friends I was staying with in exchange for my living costs. I knew it would be temporary, but I just had to leave. I was led by faith that had already guided me to get out of the design school, and I had the certainty that I would find a way to live free from the modern slavery of this world. I just didn’t know how - yet… Soon came the time when my savings ran out and the design job, I had was ending too…

By then, I was disgusted by computer work. I met a man from New Zealand, and we decided to go together to work in Australia to rebuild our savings for more traveling. “Don’t worry, he told me, finding work in Australia is easy, and it pays well!”. But his stories of past work experiences were not making me stop worrying… I was horrified by the idea of doing these stupid little jobs again. I knew I was gifted with intelligence and good creative and manual skills, so I started praying deep inside, that I would find meaningful work I could travel with, and, eventually not have to work for others again.

Not much time passed before my prayer was answered! The first clue was when I saw someone wearing a pair of moccasins. It happened that I was mostly walking barefoot in the jungle, but of course, I needed to wear shoes in the city. I was finding it very difficult to wear “normal” shoes again. When I saw his shoes, I was astonished: They looked like molded in his feet – truly like a second skin. I asked the men if I could look at them closely. He took them off and handed them to me.

I was amazed by the beauty of his shoes: one piece of leather, nothing else! Even after dancing with them for 2 hours, the shoes were not smelly or wet. My brain was quickly analyzing the design and trying to figure out how they were made. I asked with much curiosity: “Where did you get these?!”. “Oh, it’s an American friend that comes here sometimes to sell his shoes. He should come soon…”

“Soon, how soon? Would I have the chance to meet him? I had already booked my tickets to Australia and time was running short. A week passed and no news. I was trying to hang out in the places where I could have the chance to meet this person, not even knowing when he would come. We were about to leave for Australia when the volcano next to the airport started spitting ashes, and our flight was canceled until the volcano stopped. Weeks passed and our flight was still delayed. My boyfriend and I were living on his credit card, our savings were gone. Even though we were on holiday in Bali, I was not settled and relaxed like the other travelers. I was thinking about the debt I was already accumulating and the poor jobs I might have to do to repay it. In this situation where we were weirdly stuck, I was trying to keep faith…
One day, I saw this old skinny man with two braids and a white hat. He was sitting stitching leather in a corner of the yoga hall where I had seen the moccasins for the first time. I jumped: “It’s HIM, the shoemaker!”. I went straight to him and asked without much introduction: “Can you teach me?!!!”
He stared at me a moment and said: “Can you stitch? You could come to my hotel room later this afternoon and we’ll see what you can do…” ?!”.
I don’t think I had many moments of such excitement in my life. Something felt SO RIGHT.

The same afternoon, I stitched my first pair of moccasins for myself. After this test passed, he offered to help him with stitching some shoes because he was flooded with orders. I was so enthusiastic. Not only I really liked the shoes, but I saw the opportunity of working and traveling at the same time like he was doing, with making a very decent income from a simple craft. In fact, it was the answer to my prayers!

After the three days of trial, he gave me, he said he would fly back to Australia where he was living. He offered to learn more about making moccasins while helping him to rebuild his stock for the summer season. It was a big YES for me, even more so that I had already my plane tickets to the nearest airport. I was totally amazed about the ways things were lining up. I felt so blessed!

A short time after this, I landed in Australia. As my boyfriend and I had nothing left but our small backpacks and a tarp, we were camping on the dunes while I was learning to make moccasins.

During a month, I was meeting with Jory at the public tables near the beach, where I got to practice making about 100 pairs of moccasins. I was so glad to be given this opportunity that I did not mind sleeping on the ground over a blanket with the wallabies, the turkeys (and the mosquitoes.) No, I felt like the luckiest in the world and I did not even realize how big this blessing was going to become…

After a month, I felt confident in the skill enough to leave and start on my own. The only issue I had was now to buy leather and get started. The tanner would only deliver me if I ordered 20 skins at once – I had no money…
I tried looking for farm jobs, but I could not get any… I started weaving and selling some baskets, but it was barely enough to buy my food. After all, I thought of a crowd-founding. If people could order in advance, I would have the money to buy the leather and finally get started. It worked: and in a short time, I could gather my first orders and with the help of my boyfriend I ordered my first batch of leather. You can imagine how happy I was.
Lougaya Selling her Tailored-Moccasins
I attended my first market with 10 pairs of moccasins sitting on a blanket in the grass. Of course, it didn’t take me long to realize that if I wanted to make a living out if it, I would need more than the 200 or 300 people that were passing by my local beach market in Mission Beach.

I realized people were interested in learning how to make them, so as soon as I became confident enough, I started teaching small groups how to make their moccasins over a day. To complete this new income, I got advised to open an Etsy boutique. As I was pushed by the crowdfunding to make moccasins from a distance (even though I was used to making them custom-fitted in person) I took the step to open an Etsy store and offer my custom-made moccasins online. It was very stressful for me. To work around that issue, I thought: “Why not sell tutorials?

People could do the fitting themselves on their feet and I wouldn’t have to stress about fitting them from imagination and a few measurements…”. So, I wrote a few tutorials and copied the patterns I was working with.
I was surprised to quickly make my first sales online. At this point, I was still far from being able to make a living out of it, but it was already covering all my living costs and I had a part-time job to repay the money my boyfriend had lent me.
My market stall was soon improved with a table, a tent, and some chairs and I was also able to drive to a few bigger local markets where I was sometimes selling very well.
Pushed by the requests of my customers, I started designing my first boots. I had not been taught how to draw the patterns, so I simply started making trials by modifying the patterns I already had and eventually, I started to figure out a little better how to design the moccasin patterns from scratch.
After a year and maybe 200 pairs of experience, I started thinking to myself “Okay! I am starting to get it now! The feel of the tension on the thread, adapting to the thickness of the leather, cutting the shoe in the right position on the hide, custom-fitting the shoes… all those little things that took me practice, trial, and error.

Overall, the short trip to Australia to rebuild our savings turned into 2 years of quite some struggle but I got my business started and this time, I could return to Indonesia with a bag of leather and moccasins and the confidence that I would not need to go through this time of struggle again. Soon after we flew back to Indonesia, my boyfriend died. Luckily, I was not alone, and I could join my friends in the jungle where I had started a few years prior to that. That’s where I met Joa, my husband now.

After living for a while in Indonesia with him and our friends, came again the time we needed to rebuild our savings. This time, I could confidently plan a business trip for a few months in Australia. Joa came with me, as well as another couple of friends making jewelry and we spent 2 months going from one beach market to another to sell our craft. It worked quite well, and this is how Joa started making moccasins from one day to another.
Joa & Lougaya selling barefoot shoes in Australia
For Joa, being able to make money by making moccasins was also a big relief. After nearly dying several times in accidents working as a welder in the industry, he quit everything to seek for alternative ways of living and started to learn gardening and permaculture, ... He then also decided to live far away from the world in the jungle of Sumatra and plant trees. His only income was the share of the rent his mother was sending him, barely enough to pay for his visa and his food in Indonesia. But just like me, there was no way he would return to his past life. Even though he had a well-paying work, and everything his parents were hoping for him, he could not find any satisfaction in that way of living. He was literally sick of it, despaired, and chronically depressed.

When he first put a pair of moccasins on, it was also a big “Aha” for him, as he was struggling with blisters on his feet whenever he tried to wear shoes instead of walking barefoot. He was also gifted with good manual skills and, very quickly, was able to stitch moccasins perfectly.
In 2018, the project in Indonesia was closed and we came back to France. We were running out of Australian Deer leather and of course, we wanted to continue making moccasins and to offer workshops. We knew that finding good leather for the moccasins was a challenge. I always remember Jory telling me: “Okay, you’ve done the easiest: learning to make the moccasins, now the hardest is to come, finding good leather.”
As he did not tell me much about leather, I had to figure it out on my own and pay the consequence of being a novice and buying leather without knowing what I was getting… At least I learned that I would never buy leather again without seeing it and touching it but, visiting all the tanneries of France one by one wasn’t really an option. Luckily, we found a place in Paris called “La cuirotheque” where all the leather samples from about 60 French tanneries were showcased. The lady there showed us a few different samples she had prepared for us. None of them were quite suitable. So, I started walking along the wall where about 5 meters of little leather squares were hanging. I picked 5 of them, 3 were from the same tannery. “We’ve found it!!!”.

We went in person to the tannery and bingo! They had perfectly what we needed. Incredible soft, but thick and strong leather with a beautiful natural grain. Even though this leather was the most prestigious one the tannery was making the price was affordable if we took the skins with small defects. We bought a few skins and continued our way to the Canary Islands where we had planned to meet with the same friends from Indonesia.
Selling Moccasins
When we arrived on the island of La Palma, we knew we would be limited to the small craft and flee market that was taking place only once a week. Moreover, the tourist season would be short. It was obvious to us that we needed to work on an alternative.

I was newly pregnant, which was giving us extra motivation and pressure.
We were living under a tent, still very humbly, and from the data of our phone and a wire to get electricity under a tree, Joa started learning about web design, blogging, and online marketing. As I was still very stressed about making the moccasins from a distance and that shipping things from the islands was difficult, we saw more interest in selling tutorials online. For several reasons, it made much sense for us to upgrade the PDF tutorials to video tutorials.
So, we rented a small hall, and, with our smartphone and a small tripod, we recorded our first tutorials. The time of the birth of our first child was getting close so we worked twice harder to get our website and all our video tutorials edited and set up quickly. As we were still living outdoors in the wilderness, the local library became our work office.
Our group of friends had all left and the project we had together was dissolved, proven to be against the will of God. Nevertheless, our small family was blessed as we were given all the resources and strength to set up a reliable income. We had never been lacking anything, even when we thought we would barely have enough to get our food for the week from the little sales we were making at the local flea market. God was already growing us in faith.
Our baby was born and from the first sales of our video tutorials, we were able to afford to rent a small yurt. It had been several years that we were living under a tarp, in a tent, or in our car. Can you imagine how glad we were to move into this yurt, and have running water, a shower, toilets, and even a washing machine to clean the diapers?!
As we noticed that our shoes were selling well to the German people that were visiting the island, we got a bit over-enthusiastic and had been planning to make a big business trip from festivals to festivals in Europe. Luckily, God prevented us from that, and we were not even able to book our boat tickets to get out of the Canary Islands.

Instead of that, we went to a small festival on another of the islands. By the end of the festival, the announcement of the COVID pandemic arrived and within a few days, all airports and harbors were closed or very highly restricted. In our case, we just had the time to take the boat back to La Palma. That was in March 2020.
We didn’t really know what we would do, we had reduced all our belongings to be able to live in our car again and we had no plans for the future. We had just made 1200 euros, which for us was a lot, but we knew that if tourism was shutting down, we wouldn’t be able to sell our moccasins in the local market like usual. We were expecting hard times to come…
To our biggest surprise, the COVID pandemic became another blessing for us!
Month after month, our online business started to grow like never before. People being stuck at home started investing in our online video tutorials and kits. All the hard work we had done the few months before was starting to really pay off. We had not to worry anymore about how long the lockdown would last.
Simultaneously, God was revealing His Son, Christ, in our life. We understood that the pressure we felt to finish setting up our online business before the birth of our child, was more of a divine guidance than anything rational. Our eyes started to be opened to see how guided, gifted, and blessed we had been to be led to this point. God had taken us out of the madness of the world and guided us to find truth and freedom in all areas of our life.
We were living in a tent again but felt rich and blessed like no others.
The time of the COVID lockdown became for us the time of a deep retreat to make space for our Lord and Savior in our lives. We were allowed to relax about work and focus on our spiritual duties, put order into our relationships, repent and learn to discern the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
From this point in our lives, we took the firm decision that we would never let money, comfort, family, or any kind of ideology drive our lives anymore, but continuously seek the truth, order, and guidance that was given by our all-knowing, powerful, and mighty God. All idols, religions, friends, and family had been failing us, but not God.
At some point, the borders opened again, and we were led to drive back to the European continent. Not for the same reasons this time, not with the same Spirit, not with the same foundations but with real faith. We left without knowing where we would stop driving, did it matter? We knew that the Lord would guide us.
After several weeks or months of driving and living in our car, we were getting very low in money, and our trailer and car broke down. Before we even realized we were going to be stuck, a man popped out of his car and offered his help. He invited us to take some rest and a shower at this place which ended up being our apartment for a week, while our car was being fixed. We did not waste the opportunity to have a roof over our heads. Within a few days, I was setting up a new crowdfunding for the release of a new tutorial: “The Base”.

We did not have a house yet, but I knew we would be able to get one soon… In the end, all was fixed in a week, and we found a short-term rental in France. Some money miraculously was put in our hands and the money crowdfunding followed which enabled us to afford the rent and take the next steps…

All of this was even more miraculous that everywhere was still in lockdown, in the wintertime, and people were very closed-off and paranoid in general…
Spring 2021 came, and we were given the chance to find a small country house for rent in the center of France. It is from there that we work, far from the madness of the busy world. Thanks to God and our online business, we were able to survive past the COVID-19 pandemic, which was a guillotine for many craftsmen.
We now live the true and simple life that we have always been wishing for. We work from home, at our rhythm, while being able to take care of our children, garden, and animals whenever they need…

We are lucky to be surrounded by old castles where many medieval markets occur during the summer. It is where we continue selling our moccasins, sandals, and boots in person.
Our Stall in 2023

During the rest of the time, we prepare the DIY kits and custom-made shoes that we ship worldwide. We also work on maintaining our website, making new tutorials and patterns, as well as developing new partnerships with bloggers and leather shops online like Anya’s review (barefoot reviews), The Leather Guy (leather wholesaler), The Leather Crafters Journal (a famous magazine), Minimal-list, Barefoot Maestra, Barefoot Down and Under, and more.

Overall, we learned that we did not have to live like primitive people to live away from the madness of the world, in fact, God taught us how to be balanced, stable, and sustainable in ways we wouldn’t have thought of. We don’t find ourselves wealthy with money, but wealthy in being free and at peace with the Lord, within our hearts and family, strengthened by the presence of God within our lives and soul.
All glory to the King of Kings, our Savior.