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Umbraland Adventure Gear Adds to Its Line of Leather Footwear

Mar 23, 2023

Umbraland Adventure Gear Adds to Its Line of Leather Footwear

It came on stream in 2021, with its signature leather boots that got rave reviews from individuals who tried and liked them. But while Umbraland has waited for contracts to supply big companies or government ministries with the hand-made boots, it has now added a few more hand-made leather items to its line. Those include two styles of women’s footwear and even leather handbags that add to the appearance. This week’s edition of Belize on Reel takes a second look at Umbraland and its new products. Here’s News Five’s Marion Ali.

Marion Ali, Reporting

This pair of block heels is among the latest types of footwear that the Belizean leather shoes factory, Umbraland Adventure Gear in Georgeville, Cayo has come up with since their signature boots were made available for sale back in 2021. Co-owner of Umbraland, Nancy Marin told News Five that she decided to add a women’s line to offer something that can be worn with comfort in the office, or out in the field, while adding inches to the height.

Nancy Marin, Co-owner, Umbraland Adventure Gear

“Being a woman in business and being the feminist that I am I felt that we are leaving out the woman. But when I look at shoes, I spent years wearing high heel shoes, Marin and they’re very uncomfortable. And so I wanted to create something that I can work with the whole day.  As you can see, I walked on the rough road and it was fine – thicker heels, sturdier, real leather that can last me, but also looks nice so I can go into a meeting, a cocktail, or whatever. It’s a very versatile design and very, very sturdy, very comfortable as well. It’s soft inside. I can be all day on it and my feet don’t hurt. So that was the idea to create something for a woman like me, a woman that is active, that doesn’t like too dainty but you know, likes to look good still.”

The design is one that Marin came up with herself and her shoemaker tweaked it until they got what they wanted.

Marin Marin

“The shoemaker that we have, one of them is from Honduras and he started in the trade as a designer. So he actually is a designer and he became a shoemaker afterwards. So we’ve been getting along really good and he’s been very, very good at capturing my ideas. So, although I’m not very good at designing. I scribble something and I tell him what I want and he really, really does a good job in capturing it.”

Jaime Marin, Co-owner, Umbraland Adventure Gear

“We were scared and wary to enter the female market because that is so varied and big. And of course, it took the courage and the vision of Nancy Marin to usher it in. And I think that what she’s doing is bringing in a whole new element that we didn’t want to venture in but it took that vision and that courage. Without that, we’d be stuck to being limited to the boots.”

There was also input from some women on the design after Marin went online with her idea. And for the women who are not into heels, or prefer a more casual look, you’ll be happy to learn that there’s are also new leather sandals and handbags that have just come on the scene.

Nancy Marin

“We also created a sandals – low, it’s kind of what we could compare to Ativas, and I’ll show you that in the showroom and also a handbag. We have that to show you as well. That is as well, just like the shoes for the active, outgoing, adventurous type woman. The bags that we’re taking out right now, we tested both leather and suede and I’m in love with the suede. So we’re keeping that suede bag.”

Before now, Umbraland has been doing just boots, including work boots, and boots for agriculture purposes and military boots, with the hope that one day they could be contracted to supply their hand-made leather boots to our military and, or Belize Police Department. And now, Marin says there’s also been good new towards that end from none other than the Minister who is responsible for not only the police, but also for new growth industries, Kareem Musa. She and her husband, Jaime feel it has to do with the quality of their products.

Nancy Marin

“Minister Musa is very, very, um, interested in getting that order done. I think we had to wait for the budget to pass for him to have it, but he is the only minister so far that is very interested. He approved the design. They loved it. I think ComPol also saw it and approved it. And so we will be providing, initially I think he told me five hundred boots is what they’re looking at.”

The hand-made shoes, sandals and boots are all made from leather that is also produced right here in Belize. And unlike imported footwear that are likely to fall apart less than a year down the road, Marin’s husband, Jaime explained why any of these locally-made footwear will hold up even in the strongest rain.

Jaime Marin

“This one here is an industrial glue that has to be heat-activated in a special oven and what it does is basically vulcanizes the rubber together and then it can actually resist the hot humid environment.”

Nancy Marin

“When those boots get produced internationally or in colder countries, the gluing element, in the tropics, it doesn’t hold. It’s gonna melt off, and that’s why the bottom of your shoes comes off. Now we got in a technician from an Italian company that came in to establish our gluing. And these are scientists that work with these things. These are technicians. They came in last year and we did meet with the PM when these people came in. They established a gluing for us. That is ideal for the Belize weather, so it’s not gonna come apart.  And I think that is one thing that Minister Musa looked at because he got a boots for himself. He didn’t – what I love about Minister Musa is that he didn’t depend on anybody else to give him a report. He tried it himself. The Commander of the Coast Guard also tried the boots themselves and they get really good feedback.”

The Marins sent a pair of their boots to a farmer in Arizona in the U.S., and the feedback has been encouraging.

Nancy Marin

“This guy said that he was born on the farm. He wore his first boots when he was three months old, and there’s no better boots as far as he’s concerned than what we give him because it holds in the weather and he’s been testing it.”

With that stamp of approval, Nancy Marin is hoping that her budding shoes and handbag factory can become a full-fledge business, supplying more individuals, government ministries and corporate companies than they currently are. Marin says they can meet the demands.

Nancy Marin

“We can meet the demands. We are going slow right now because we don’t have the orders and it’s hard to keep a large staff if we don’t have these contracts. We have two shoemakers. One is Honduran, one is a Mexican. They are willing to train and as part of the job description that we gave them is that if we bring in any young person that wants to work with us, they have to train him. They agree, they’re encouraged to do it. We are doing it very hands-on, very old school. But I think the quality is a lot better. Like when you buy, when you buy a shoes, even with the female shoes, the insoles right now, the factories are doing it with cardboard. And so when that gets wet, it comes apart. But we are not doing that. We are using raw hide for the inside.”

All the boots are made of leather material from treated cow hide, while the women’s shoes and handbags are made of treated sheep hide, which is a softer type of leather. With this new line out, the Marins are hoping to attend Fashion Week Next year. Marion Ali for News Five.