Since 1870, Pom d'Api has manufactured quality kids shoes that are adapted to the morphology and size of each age. At Pom d'Api, meticulous attention is paid to every detail of production, from the selection and choice of leather to the final assembly. Light, comfortable, flexible and rigid enough, Pom d'api shoes allow your child to grow well whilst promoting the formation of the natural foot arch. With each new Pom d'Api collection, Smallable selects the essence of the brand, from baby shoes to kids shoes and teen shoes. All the lines and all the Pom d'Api new arrivals are here in our online boutique.
The story behind the brand POM D'API
Located in the city of Chambretaud, at the heart of a small village of Vendée, is Shoe Maker - previously known as RAS kids - a company from which multiple children’s shoe brands such as Pom d’Api have originated. Created in 1973 by a cobbler, the Rautureau family owned company was acquired in 2016 by private investors who decided to keep the company’s soul alive and carry on their know-how, two things the company’s direction held very dear to their heart. Over the past year, the employees have moved into new premises a few kilometres away from their old workshop and continue the company’s 44 year old traditions. In the yard stands a piece of work from artist Hervé Di Rosa - a reminder that the Rautureau’s family share a passion for art. From the building’s corridors arises the smell of leather and new shoes. Guided visit and narrative from Alexandra Bois and Arnaud Bayeux, CEO and chief executive respectively of Shoe Maker.
How was the brand Pom d’Api born?
It is a 100% Vendean brand and a family story: the grand-father, who was a cobbler, decided to start making shoes, hoofs, to be more precise and it was a huge success. There was no emblematic children’s shoe brand at that time and they managed to follow the trends while staying unique and keeping the Vendean know-how alive. They were very attached to product quality and solidity. What we see today is the legacy of this period, of the transmission of knowledge, of the continuity. The company stayed the same after it was acquired. We’re only 8 kilometres away from the Rautureau group for which we have a lot of affection.
Alexandra, what image did you have of the brand before it was acquired?
Like everyone else, I had in mind the image of a beautiful brand every child should wear, especially when it comes to a child’s first steps. However, I didn’t realise the complexity of the shoe-making process. It requires 200 different operations in order to make one pair of shoes. We can always withdraw a few invisible steps (such as a few stitches inside the lining) but those are really important if we care about the child’s comfort and wellbeing. And we’re always looking for the best materials there are. Shoes are one of the most difficult products to create so children’s shoes are even more complex. The difficulty for us is to create shoes from size 18 to 40 with different models for both boys and girls.
You are very attentive to quality and comfort; how does it translate in your products?
We have our shoes tested by children from a local school near Chambretaud. We are one of only three or four brands to still produce our products in France and we are the only ones to be accredited by the French Association of Podiatrists for our models dedicated to babies’ first steps. It is imperative that the foot arch is respected and the ankle well maintained. We also have a research department, which is in charge of thinking about all of these problematics, looking for new shoe soles and making sure our products are comfortable.
Your workshops are right here, with a lot of machinery. What’s the conception process of a pair of shoes?
We start with a shoe sole model made from resin, then we focus on the rubber sole. The shoe is built like a puzzle, piece by piece, manually but also with cutting machines, sewing machines and we also use more sophisticated tools such as a 3D printer to shape our products. We’re very careful when it comes to the fabric and the inside of the shoe so it can last longer, be healthy and comfortable. Our different types of leather all come from Italy, Spain and Portugal. We need 2 and a half hours to build a prototype here in France, then 190,000 pairs are fabricated each year in our factory in Tunisia.
How is your team constructed today?
Of the 180 people employed by the group, 120 are dedicated to production, around twenty work in our boutiques, fifteen on our prototypes… It’s a small company so everyone does a little bit of everything.
How do you create your collections?
It usually takes us four months to come up with the whole collection. We start with concepts and models and we also find inspiration in the research of materials we do every season to be as close as possible to the trends. It’s a race against time but we want to work like this so that no one has the same materials as we do and we can stick even more to adult fashion trends.
What are Pom d’Api’s most emblematic pieces?
We are renowned for our shoes designed for babies’ first steps and for our sandals. They are robust and our rubber soles are of the best quality. Moreover, we apply a small piece of crocodile leather or a touch of rabbit fur on our leather shoes as our trademark. We often make duo-material models.
What does a brand that has existed for more than 44 years do to renew itself while keeping its DNA intact?
We always find inspiration from previous trends. One or two years ago, we released sandals with a strawberry detail that were first launched 20 years ago. We updated the model and used our new techniques. The Pom d’Api DNA is everything we’ve done in the past and everything we do for the future.
Who is the Pom d’Api typical child?
They are quite clever, funny, a mix between tradition and modernity. They can be very classical but crazy at times. They’re naughty. We export a lot of our production so there’s also an international element. We have shops in Belgium, Switzerland, Moscow, Kuwait…50% of our turnover comes from overseas.
How can you explain that?
It’s the French know-how that attracts so many people and also the fact that they can’t find a lot of children’s brands in their country. Our greatest strength is our quality, because an ill-conceived shoe is the worst thing. It’s different from an article of clothing that can be imperfect when it comes to its cut, a shoe needs to be irreproachable. Actors Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck often go the the Petits Chapelais in New York, a multi-brand store where our products are sold and they’ve been clients of ours for a long time. The Swedish Royal family can also be found among our most loyal customers, it’s lovely.
What would be Pom d’Api’s motto?
It comes from a joke but its good representation of our mind-set. We have this quote from the movie Toy Story written in our research facility: “To infinity and beyond”. It’s the idea that we always need to go farther, to think the impossible and still go for it. We don’t want to stay in a routine and rest on our laurels.
What are your favourite kid-friendly addresses?
The first one would be the museum that is going to be installed in our offices with all the shoes created by Pom d’Api since 1973, such as our clogs and sandals. In Paris, our favourites are the Bonton and Bonpoint boutiques, “Coffee” on Rue de Sablonville in Neuilly for brunch, next to the Pom d’Api boutique, and the Montmartre museum. In our area, we also have the Puy du Fou, the Machines de l’Ile in Nantes and the Tadashi Kawamata Observatory in Lavau-sur-Loire.