Shoe designers give back to needy kids in their hometown

COVINA, CA (KNBC/NBC) - "Aldabella Scarpa" is Italian for beautiful shoes, but for the two sisters who own a children's shoe boutique by that name, Aldabella Scrarpa goes well beyond adorable maryjanes and fancy flip flops.

For them, "Aldabella Scarpa" is about their family legacy, building a life as working moms and being kind to those in their community.

The company, based in Covina, CA, was started in 2007 by sisters Ann Marie Smith and Monica Gonzales.

Gonzales is usually designing behind the embroidery machine. Smith is usually behind the computer, and their mother is always helping out on a sewing machine.

It is work that they love, but it also allows them to be more involved in their children's lives.

"We wanted to be semi-stay at home moms with careers so this was a natural fit to use creative talents and still be able to drop our kids off at school and pick them up," said Anne Marie.

This is a second career for both sisters.

For years, Smith was a teacher and principal. Gonzales worked in the dental field, but shoes were always in the blood.

"Our dad loved shoes, it was important to him whatever we put on fit well. He came from a generation of shoemakers. Our great grandfather was the first inventor of steel toe shoes for miners in Mexico."

The sisters design and make fashionable and classic footwear for infants and children.

Most of the shoes are made from soft leather or suede.

The shoes come in unique round boxes which were made to be pretty and be re-used. Printed on each box is their slogan, "Every child deserves beautiful shoes."

Gonzales remembers a moment from her own third grade class.

"This boy sitting in class with shoes with holes, and I thought, 'Did his parents forget? Did he not know today was the first day of school?'"

So for every pair of shoes they sell, they donate a pair of shoes to a needy child in their own neighborhood.

Last month, the sisters gave away 300 specially designed tennis shoes to girls in La Puente, CA.

The shoes were designed by their own teenage nieces and were covered with positive messages like, "I rock" and "Imagine" and "Believe."

Monica said the messages are powerful.

"If you walk around knowing you rock, you matter, you're not going to settle for too much negativity in your life," she said.

Since Aldabella Scarpa started four years ago, they have given away more than 250,000 pairs of shoes.

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