Handcrafted Shoes & Footwear
Emai started because I wanted to find the perfect pair of shoes.
I’ve always had trouble finding comfortable shoes and I grew up buying shoes that were unlikely to fit perfectly.
Hoi An — where I live — is famous for talented shoemakers. But after three attempts with shoemakers, I couldn’t get the right quality and would notice mistakes in the shoes.
So someone recommended a shoemaker’s workshop to me.
Working with this shoemaker, what stood out most was that his open mind to improving the shoes he made and doing something different compared to fast shoemaking that’s common in Hoi An.
Once we perfected my first pair (which included iterations of using different materials to create comfortable shoes), I started showing off my shoes to friends.
Over time, friends started coming to me directly for help crafting their perfect pair of shoes.
That was in 2017. I helped friends for two years before Emai (known as Swing Love back then) was born.
Since Emai’s beginnings, I’ve had a commitment to creating beautiful, quality shoes.
We follow traditional shoemaking methods where every piece is handcrafted with care — with minimal machine work involved.
Each layer of leather heels and outsoles are cut and stacked by hand — a decades-long practice that makes the outsoles durable and resole-able, if necessary.
At the heart of Emai is a focus on the quality that comes from handcrafted shoemaking. But the start of Emai is a girl who fell in love with a dance born in Harlem.
It started with Swing (Love)
Emai really started when I fell in love with a dance born in the African-American communities of Harlem — the Lindy Hop.
After nights of swinging out on the dance floor, it wasn’t just my feet that would hurt — my entire body would.
Lo and behold — the pain started with my feet.
I knew a good pair of dance shoes were the foundation for happy feet and a happy sleep that followed a night full of dancing.
Finding this shoemaker in Hoi An was like finding a puzzle piece that had been missing for years.
After a lifetime of buying shoes that were unlikely to fit perfectly, I found a shoemaker had a commitment to creating high-quality, made-to-measure shoes.
That first pair of shoes solved everything — they were comfortable, and my entire body felt better after a night full of swinging.
That’s when Swing Love (which has now evolved into Emai) was born.
[photo of that first pair!]
Swing Love started because I wanted to find the perfect pair of dancing shoes — and since 2017, it’s evolved into Emai, a direct-to-customer shoemaking workshop that works with an ecosystem of other craftsmen & craftswomen.