The Pontacq mountain boot workshop, taken over in 2016 by Stéphane Bajenoff, received valuable recognition last April. Congratulations…
CREATORS AND PASSIONERS – Le Soulor labelled as a living heritage company
Created in 1925, the former Paradis-Pommiès workshop used to make hand-made shoes for shepherds, workers and hikers… Its buyers are notably rewarded for their efforts and for a little-used know-how: Norwegian sewing.
On April 28th, the Le Soulor workshop announced on its Facebook page that it had been labelled a living heritage company, a satisfaction for this family workshop founded in 1925 and directed for 40 years by Joseph Paradis, then taken over in 2016 by Stéphane Bajenoff and Hélène Arnault, who were joined in 2017 by Philippe Carrouché.
At the time, the aging machinery was renewed, the workshop in Pontacq was brought up to standard and the shop was modernised. Le Soulor sells direct in Pontacq, but has also had a shop in Pau, rue des Cordeliers, for the past 4 years.
The company is known for its hiking shoes (Ossau, Vignemale) and its town shoes made of Norwegian sewn, a technique known to be “complex and time-consuming” that is said to exist only in a few European workshops and which allows the models to be resoled, in addition to offering optimal quality and solidity.
For its mountain boots, the workshop also masters the other technique known as double assembly. The raw material (leather from the Carriat tannery or Degermann), 90% French, and our local know-how have done the rest. The company can also make its models to measure: just send it a template.
Durable shoes made in Béarn…
Since its takeover, which at the time was long overdue, the workshop has done more than just survive. It now has a dozen employees, compared to two five years ago. Results linked to a good reputation based on word-of-mouth, but also on a renewed and original commercial approach.
In addition to its shop, the workshop sells its second-hand products in new places, such as the “Petite Librairie” in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, the shoemaker’s shop “A la Ville à la Montagne”, also in the capital, and, closer to home, at a pedorthist’s in Bayonne or at the Carmen Immobilier agency in Biarritz, with which an operation was set up last year.
We are not quite in the era of studded embroidery, the Samaritaine and Bon Marché, which the workshop used to deliver, but beyond its traditional know-how, the company still knows how to live with the times. It has also just announced that it was working with La Botte Gardiane, another EPV (Camarguaise), to make “four-handed sandals” (it is well found!).
In 2018, its managers were winners of the Adour Entrepreneurship Network and a Total Regional Development Award for successful business takeovers.The Pontacq workshop is also open to visitors, having reopened its doors to the public on May 13, giving you the opportunity to see experienced craftspeople at work, and perhaps even to indulge yourself with a sustainable, local and responsible purchase. In short, if you’re going for a walk in the mountains this summer, we’ve found the right shoe for you.