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Crowdfunding Friday: Miami startup offers shoes with a story -- and social entrepreneurial twist

Juntos 2130

 Like the flip-flop is to Rio, this simple canvas shoe is to cities like Guayaquil, Ecuador.

 As an unofficial symbol of street fashion, El Zapato de Lona, is a classic canvas lace-up shoe that has become  a working class badge of honor in that part of the world, says Mauricio Laniado, co-founder of Juntos, a Miami-based startup.

The shoes caught the eye of the first-generation Ecuadorian during his recent travels and inspired him to start his first company to offer his own version of these iconic shoes -– with a hip twist.  

Available in  black canvas with white piping, white and powder blue, the shoes also features a a map of Ecuador inside -- so that when you wear them, you never forget where they came from, he says. They are set to retail for $48, and Laniado already has a U.S. production partner lined up.

This story has a social entrepreneurial twist too: Each pair of shoes purchased lets you do good, as an education backpack filled with a year’s worth of crucial school supplies will be donated to an Ecuadorian at-risk youth in the same neighborhoods where the style hails from. That’s one education backpack for every pair of shoes bought, says Laniado.

Laniado -– who co-founded the company with Andrew Tupper -– says he plans to create more products inspired by iconic styles  from around the world that bring on warm feelings of home. But this is Juntos’ first product and  the company is introducing it on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo. In just over a week, the company has already surpassed its goal of $!0,000 but now has set stretch goals. Its campaign ends Sept. 4.

To view and take part in Juntos’ Indiegogo campaign,  visit FirstStepJuntos.com.  A digital look book for the Zapato de Lona is at www.JuntosProject.com/lb.

Mauricio and Andrew (1)
Mauricio Laniado and Andrew Tupper are shown with the education backpacks and some of the Ecuadorian children who received them.

Starting Gate features a crowdfunding campaign every Friday. If you would like yours considered, email ndahlberg@miamiherald.com.