Vegan shoes coming to Oak Park Avenue

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Oak Park resident Alisha Kettner, 32, has been a vegetarian for over half her life and went vegan a couple of years ago. But when she made the leap to weed animal products out of her footwear, she found few options in the Chicago area.

"I tried to buy non-leather products, but department stores didn't carry [them]," she said.

After some Internet research, she found several companies — such as Nicora Johns, Cri de Coeur, Olsenhaus, Novacas and Coral 8 — which shared her animal-friendly philosophy. When Kettner realized there was no store in Chicago or Oak Park where the animal- and eco-friendly shoes were available to shoppers in one place, the concept for her new store, Amour de la Terre — French for "love the earth" — was born.

Kettner and her husband, Kristopher Kettner, 33, will bring their dream to life this spring with the new boutique, which will be located at 130 N. Oak Park Ave. 

Not only will the store's selection of shoes, purses and accessories not include leather, but they will also be free of animal-based glues, commonly used in manufacturing, Kettner said. 

"In addition to being animal-friendly, all products are from companies that minimize their environmental impact, with most using recycled materials," Kettner said in a news release announcing the new business. 

Kettner says the companies that will be featured in the shop are "conscientious of the ethical treatment of workers."  

Many of the products that will be featured in Amour de la Terre use microfibers that "look and feel just like leather and suede," she said.

She said the decision to open shop in Oak Park was an easy one because of the environmentally-friendly and health-conscious mindset of its residents. They chose the Hemingway District location because of "great boutiques and restaurants" in the area and heavy foot traffic, she said.

Kettner hopes the business attracts those already concerned about the use of animals in clothes manufacturing, but "the other really exciting part of this boutique for me is to bring awareness to these issues," she said, noting that the styles featured in the store will attract those not into the environmental- and animal-friendly aspects of the shop.

"Hopefully, the convenience of shopping in Oak Park and seeing some cute styles will draw them in," she said.

Real estate broker David King, president of David King and Associates, who brokered the deal, said in an email that the 1,065-square-foot space "will be a great addition to the village of Oak Park."


Reader Comments

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Cherry Garcia from Oak Park   

Posted: January 27th, 2014 2:51 PM

I hear vegan shoes taste like feet.

Jessica from Oak Park  

Posted: January 26th, 2014 11:39 AM

I'm a vegan living in OP, and I'm so excited to hear about this business. Can't wait to stop by and check out the merchandise. I'm amused that the anti-vegan commenters below think they're being humorous or original, when in fact their remarks look like they've been copied and pasted from the comments section of every other article online about vegan issues. People Eating Tasty Animals, I'm looking at you :) If you're going to poke fun...fine! Just try to be more original next time :)

Margaret from Rolling Meadows  

Posted: January 25th, 2014 9:29 AM

Love the idea. For sure I will be visiting this store. Cannot wait for it to open. No I'm not vegan , but I'm animal lover. I often dinne at vegan restaurants, and believe me the food taste good. My daughter is vegan and often has problems with finding shoes that she wants. Buying shoes on internet is not as convienient as you think. Splendid idea!! Go for it!!

OP Rez Number who knows  

Posted: January 25th, 2014 9:13 AM

"open shop in Oak Park was an easy one" ha, of course it was. Gullible people willing to spend megabucks for "vegan" shoes. Only in Oak Park.

Happy Now from OP  

Posted: January 24th, 2014 7:28 PM

OP Transplant, you just gave me the best laugh of my week! Thanks!

OP Transplant  

Posted: January 24th, 2014 2:21 PM

I'd never wear synthetic shoes, because I draw the line at wearing the horror and fear of prehistoric zooplankton. The fact that I care about these creatures and Dorene does not suggests to me that I am better than she is. I get it now; it kinda feels good!

Shoes Are People My Friend  

Posted: January 24th, 2014 10:40 AM

In the end we are all dead so let's drink up and cheer a new business! Who cares what they sell as long as its legal and it brings in tax revenue. Good luck Vegan Shoes! I am a meat lover and love to hunt down deer and ducks but wish you the best!


Posted: January 24th, 2014 10:27 AM

I can't see how they'll sell enough of these things to stay in business. Especially in Oak Park. Good luck to them, but I'm sure Dave King won't be throwing away the ads for the site anytime soon.

antoinetta from Oak Park  

Posted: January 24th, 2014 10:23 AM

Writing in support of Deborah of Hilliard's comments. I hope this new merchant is not discouraged by this mean-spirited exchange. It's par for the course, especially during a brutal winter when everyone is going stir crazy. I'm not vegan but I welcome new business to our wonderful community and I love that this person is following her dream.


Posted: January 23rd, 2014 10:44 PM

Wow. Childlike?! Really. I'm so done with this thread. PEACE!

Chemical Engineer from Oak Park  

Posted: January 23rd, 2014 8:45 PM

Just to be clear, despite the labels "green" and vegan, microfiber (aka a blend of polyester and polyurethane) is a petrochemical product made from the decomposed carcasses of prehistoric animals (zooplankton), drilled or fracked out of the ground, refined and distilled, reacted with isocyanate, among other things, in the presence of a heavy metal catalyst, then extruded, woven, and fabricated into shoes labelled "environmentally friendly".

Violet Aura from Reefer Forest  

Posted: January 23rd, 2014 6:25 PM

I am wishing her the best but I must comment on her contention that dept. stores didn't carry non-leather shoes. I find that extremely hard to believe. Right now I am wearing non-leather boots that I bought at Marshall's for about $40. I have found it very easy to buy such shoes over the years--Payless specials are a case in point. Matter of fact, more and more man-made materials are showing up in shoes of all types and not just for vegans. I wonder what the price range will be at this store...

Deborah from Hilliard  

Posted: January 23rd, 2014 5:52 PM

This thread of negative comments is so sadly reflective of what we've become. What the heck, folks??!!! Good for Alisha for following her dream. MOST boutiques cater to some niche market. If this isn't your thing, just don't comment. Sheesh! Good luck, Alisha - I applaud you!

LA-A Ladasha from Austin  

Posted: January 23rd, 2014 5:17 PM

Ned Ryerson is one smart dude

Ned Ryerson from River Forest, Illinois  

Posted: January 23rd, 2014 5:14 PM

This is the back and forth on the WJ that I LIVE FOR. Someone (appropriately) makes fun of the eccentrics for their high handed views; and the left wing, Divvy Riding, Green Tea drinking, MSNBC watching folks fire back at the Teabagging, Faux News watching, and all that goes with that. So, self rightous, ALL OF YOU. I buy shoes because they keep my feet warm, and dry. Nothing wrong with that.

Earl Leatherman from Oak Park  

Posted: January 23rd, 2014 5:13 PM

Here is what happens: People visit cute store People go to internet and order the products for cheaper and avoid the taxes. Store has a Forest Park Madison street vibe but the people in Forest Park are probably too smart to fall for it

stan from Oak park  

Posted: January 23rd, 2014 5:09 PM

the only horror i feel is reading Violet's emails

People Eating Tasty Animals from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 23rd, 2014 4:14 PM

Best of luck to the store. I'd love to see another successful business in Oak Park but attitudes of people like M Perkins and Dorene will probably keep me from ever stepping foot in it. Before you say good riddance, keep in mind you have to have a customer base to stay in business. There aren't THAT many vegans in Oak Park. You need to appeal to the rest of us to succeed.

OP Transplant  

Posted: January 23rd, 2014 3:40 PM

Dorene-Can you not see that you invite ridicule with statements about consuming "the horror and fear within that animal"? If you express yourself in ways that are silly and childlike, people are going to poke fun at you. I think that everyone would like for animals to be treated as humanely as possible, but sometimes it's hard not to laugh at people's self righteousness.


Posted: January 23rd, 2014 2:50 PM

If u are not vegan-or against what we believe, then why don't u just keep your comments to yourself. '(People eating tasty animals )' SERIOUSLY!? instead of bashing why don't u educate yourselves and understand when u eat animals u are consuming not only flesh but the horror and fear within that animal.

People Eating Tasty Animals from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 23rd, 2014 11:59 AM

@Violet - I have nothing against hippies whatsoever. It was a comment and a presumed statement of fact, not an insult. Presumption is bad and can make you look very unintelligent, as illustrated by M Perkins a couple comments below.

Violet Aura from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: January 23rd, 2014 9:26 AM

@PETA: You say that like it's a bad thing...Seriously, are you using the word HIPPIES as a pejorative? Okay, I can play that game: DEAD-FLESH EATER :(

OP Transplant  

Posted: January 23rd, 2014 8:53 AM

OK, City Folk. Wear whatever kind of shoes you like, but spare the self-righteousness, and don't imagine that you are helping cows. The cow my shoes are made of is a completely domesticated creature, incapable of living in the wild. It was brought into existence solely for it's meat and leather. Without agribusiness, there are no cows. They don't exist except as a product. Buying vegan shoes does not mean that cows will be returned to "cowland" where they will live happily ever after.

M Perkins from Oak Park  

Posted: January 22nd, 2014 10:50 PM

@people eating blah blah blah...teabagging CONservaTEAve rethugliCON! And btw, you are soooooooo original with your name. Did you steal that name from a 2 year old kid? Moron.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: January 22nd, 2014 10:02 PM

Christina from Chicago, good thought provoking writing. The computer you used to write it most likely was made in China. Enjoy your cell phone made by people being paid unfair wages as you walk around town in your vegan shoes.

People Eating Tasty Animals from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 22nd, 2014 9:49 PM


Christina from Chicago  

Posted: January 22nd, 2014 9:39 PM

Compassion + fashion as one. When we purchase fast fashion, including footwear, someone somewhere is paying for it. From the slaughterhouse workers suffering from PTSD, the leather tanning that pollutes our air, water and soil, to the farm animals who are daily abused in unspeakable ways - sentient beings that are no different than our own companion pets - we need to consider the impact in our seemingly innocuous purchases.

antoinetta from Oak Park  

Posted: January 22nd, 2014 7:07 PM

Love that new biz is coming to OP. Great for all of us. I hope that this one carries all sizes (i.e, women's size 5 and 12) . Part of my problem with buying local--stores don't carry what I need.

Erin Noel Grennan from Chicago  

Posted: January 22nd, 2014 6:13 PM

THRILLED that this store is opening! I grew up in OP and u think it's a perfect match for the sensibilities of the town. Cannot wait to shop there and thank you for catering to our growing vegan population!!! YAY!!!

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: January 22nd, 2014 6:09 PM

There are places to buy vegan shoes on line, and it will give you an idea how nice the designs are. The problem with buying vegan shoes, a majority of them come from China. Unfair labor practices, and they don't have an agency to product the environment. Don't support or buy products made in China.

Dorene from Chicago   

Posted: January 22nd, 2014 5:55 PM

I can not wait until this store opens!! I'm a HAPPY VEGAN! And whoever u are that wrote about cows/ leather being here for that purpose etc...You need to open a book and educate yourself for real! Nice to know that you are ok with killing animals. Shows a lot of character. Peace! Vegan! <3

Ashlee from Chicago  

Posted: January 22nd, 2014 5:44 PM

Leather actually isn't a natural byproduct as you may think. Leather tanning and cleaning, in addition to meat raising and packing, is one of the BIGGEST pollutants to ground water, the ozone, and in other countries (where most leather is tanned), people die because the work is so hazardous and full of chemicals. Offering vegan shoes (which often are also fair-labor, sustainable, and environmentally-friendly) is fantastic for the Earth. Open your minds, naysayers.

Kristin from Chicago  

Posted: January 22nd, 2014 5:18 PM

I can't wait until this store opens! You can count in us to buy our shoes there. Will you also be carrying shoes in children's sizes? There are so many vegans who are going to be happy about your store!

Owen from Forest Park  

Posted: January 22nd, 2014 3:36 PM

@Uncommon Sense: The idea is that by not using the products yourself, you'll help to create less of a demand for them. I don't think it's crazy. I have vegan shoes, but I didn't seek them out. I just liked them best when I was buying them. Supposedly they last too.


Posted: January 22nd, 2014 3:35 PM

Another big blow to the local animal-based glue manufacturers. Sad day

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: January 22nd, 2014 2:55 PM

Only in a country of immense wealth like the US where most poor people are obese can people afford to be vegan. I hope the business does well, but vegan shoes? seriously? leather is a by product, so why waste it?

OP Transplant  

Posted: January 22nd, 2014 2:30 PM

If we didn't eat cows and use their skin for leather, there would be no cows. They're raised specifically for these purposes. Is anyone laboring under the illusion that shoes are made from the skins of cows caught in the wild?

Joen Kinnan from River Forest  

Posted: January 22nd, 2014 11:05 AM

I can't wait for this store to open. Typically, I've bought shoes online in order to get those that don't contain animal products, but now I'll be able to actually see what they look like, whether they fit, etc, before I buy. Wonderful!

M Perkins from Oak Park  

Posted: January 21st, 2014 10:21 PM

I am soooooooo looking forward to this shop. Thank you for caring about animals. I'm hoping that more vegan places open up in Oak Park (can we say BAKERY!) It makes me proud to live in a community that cares about the environment and ALL its inhabitants.

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