After studying Entrepreneurship in school, Ben Ransom set out to create a single pair of bespoke shoes. He began to work alongside a Miami-based shoemaker, and learned about the craftsmanship and dedication that goes into high-quality footwear. This mentorship coupled with Ransom’s entrepreneurial spirit led to the birth of Lanona Shoe Co. in 2014. Though a young company, the American made and sourced footwear brand now offers ten men and women’s styles, and is entering shops all over the world.
Read more about Lanona’s story in our exclusive Modern Midwest Q&A.
Modern Midwest: Tell us a little about yourself. What’s your background?
Ben Ransom: Originally from Rochester, MN, I moved to St. Paul for college and have been here ever since. I studied Entrepreneurship in school and was involved in the energy industry as a business developer prior to starting up Lanona Shoe Co.
MM: Tell us about your company.
BR: Lanona Shoe Co. began as an interest to design a custom shoe for myself. The process led me to a shoemaker in Miami. Over the course of a couple years, I continued to work with this shoemaker to test certain designs and learn what quality footwear looks and feels like. On a whim, I saw an opportunity to start a brand and pitched the idea to a family friend, who owns a design firm (Ocupop). In true start-up form, I quit my job to focus full-time on Lanona and began developing the brand as a unique, quality, American-made footwear company. We currently have over ten styles and are beginning to enter into retail shops around the globe.
MM: When/why was it born?
BR: The brand launched in Spring 2014 and was a personal interest to create an alternative American-made brand, offering products that use some of the best quality leather for footwear at a competitive price.
MM: What’s your creative process like?
BR: We start with the leather. Some leathers work better on certain styles depending on whether you’re hand-stitching or using a machine. We work within certain restrictions, whether it be cost or available lasts to determine the shapes of our products. These limitations actually spark creativity and keep us focused as a brand.
MM: What makes the Midwest, specifically Minnesota, special?
BR: The weather is definitely a factor. We’re fairly resilient people when it comes to extreme weather temps, especially those that dip below 0°F. Just like our creative process, the extreme weather serves as a inspirational outlet and an excuse to stay active and sane through some of the darker, colder months. These are some of my favorite times of the year…
MM: What’s one thing a non-Minnesota native should know about the city?
BR: We’re much more than Prince and Bob Dylan.
MM: Where do you get your inspiration?
BR: Classic designs have been our baseline since the beginning. Searching through old magazines, vintage shops and even Ebay can lend itself to finding new ideas as well. Locally, there is an awesome network of makers and upcoming brands that have been an endless source of inspiration. It’s great to see these local makers and brands grow through a stronghold of community support.
MM: What’s something new – or challenging – that you’re working on?
BR: Currently, we are a bit segmented. We make a part of the products at our workshop in Lowertown, and the rest is done in factories in Maine and New York. Right now, I’m working on partnering with a local bespoke shoemaker to develop a new pattern for a boot that we will make entirely at our Lowertown facility. There are a lot of elements that will accompany this boot, such as equipment and additional shop assistance, but it’s a challenge we’re excited to be able undertake!
MM: Any fun facts about the brand or making process that you’d like to share?
BR: Our factory in Maine, where our Academic and Tavern boots are made, has three full-time hand sewers on staff. One has been hand-stitching footwear for over 50 years. It’s this kind of dedication and craftsmanship that is the foundation of our brand.
Shop a variety of Lanona Shoe Co.’s premium footwear at Modern Midwest’s first-ever “Modern Market” in Minneapolis’ North Loop. In addition to Lanona, a carefully curated selection of local makers will showcase their goods at Modern Market – all of which embody the Midwest’s distinct take on modern living. Enjoy local food and drink, live music and art while supporting the Minneapolis maker community!
Thursday, December 3, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Fast Horse, 240 9th Ave N, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401
GET IN ON THE ACTION!
$10 in advance / $20 day of