No One Goes Barefoot

Bárbara de Cárdenas’ (PDD '10) Social Initiative

07/08/2013 Madrid

Bárbara de Cárdenas

Bárbara de Cárdenas was born in Madrid in 1977 into a family immersed in the art world. The daughter of a painter, she recalls a childhood surrounded by sketchbooks in which she painted models, suits and dresses. Always clothes, always fashion. "In no way do I see myself as a fashion victim," she says, "but I do see it as a window on to creativity."

"Shoes, for example, help to define a person’s style and allow women to adapt our image to every situation. I’m not interested in fashion from a frivolous point of view, but in an academic and humane way. In the executive world, for example, there isn’t much creativity and clothing could help to stimulate it, just as a new pair of shoes light up a child’s eyes," says Bárbara.

It was from this that the blog "Bárbara’s shoes" was born. It was an initiative that sought to look at shoes in a different way, with a focus on the practical rather than pure image. "I decided to start a blog because I was very interested in writing about and taking photographs of shoes that attracted me, but above all because there’s always the lack of information in the media, which for me is fundamental, about the price, the material, the comfort and where to buy them. I try to bring this to my blog and communicate that what is really important is to know how to choose well, making it clear that it’s better to have two than 50 pairs and to ask ourselves why we need more shoes if we already have similar pairs and if we are really going to use them."

Sharing excitement

However, Bárbara’s passion for fashion goes beyond recommending things on the Internet. Since she began working with a soup kitchen in Madrid she realized that she had to do something more. "As a volunteer worker I realized that in general people in Spain tend to donate clothes but not shoes, whether because they are reluctant to part with them or because they’re accustomed to throwing them out. That was when I got the idea of collecting shoes that were going to be thrown out, cleaning them up, getting them repaired by a shoe mender, labeling them, putting them in boxes and donating them to help centers where they could be given to people who need them."

And this was the basis for the social project "no one without shoes" which, because of its simple philosophy, is gaining more supporters. "Little by little there are more people who are interested in contributing or involving themselves in the initiative and we hope it will continue to grow in the future. However, the most important thing isn’t to grow but always to follow the same fundamental ideas: we never offer shoes that are in bad condition even if they are new because we believe it is essential to contribute to improving the sense of dignity of the people who need them."

New opportunities

Educated in the law in Madrid and Rome and with experience in international banking, as well as in European institutions and managing educational projects in Latin America, she decided in 2010 that the moment had come for change.

"My experience in Latin America was related to the world of marketing but my profile was based in law so I needed something else if my career was going to progress. A friend told me about the EMBA that they studied in Barcelona and I decided the best thing I could do would be to study a Management Development Program (PDD) at IESE’s Madrid campus, which I was able to do thanks to a scholarship," she says. "When I began the program I lacked many things and I finished it with a completely different focus, with a multitude of contacts of various types of and having explored a business sector."

After the PDD, Bárbara became a blogger and began to work with the Italian company Pielleitalia where she is head of sales and strategy in marketing in Spain.