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Article: "slippers for children and other dreams"

"babuchas para niños y otros sueños"

"slippers for children and other dreams"

70th Anniversary Pons Quintana

In 1947, on a day like today, my grandfather Santiago, at the age of 18, helped his uncle Pepe Quintana as a cutter in a small shoe workshop in the center of Alaior where his mother also worked as a dresser and his father as a shoemaker.

From a humble family, he was a dynamic young man, with great interest in his intellectual training, and frustrated at not being able to finish his high school studies but eager to be a future shoe manufacturer, he began a pattern-making course.

Santiago Pons Quintana, 1945

One day, while sweeping up the remnants of the cut, it occurred to him that with the leftover leather he could perhaps make children's shoes. What we call circular economy today was not exactly new at that time. Without further ado, he began making modest first-fit “Chicarro” shoes and with the help of his parents at night, he began making shoes that would later travel around the world.

The shoes began to be displayed in the small store owned by the parents of his girlfriend, my grandmother Inés. A shop in the center of town that still remains in the same place today and with the same name, “Can Dineru”, where my grandmother mended stockings for ladies.

How can life be, that in that Alaior of the 50's, in literal and figurative isolation, some foreigners passed through the town square and were interested in those little shoes. My grandmother quickly let them know that she was her boyfriend and sent for him to come attend to that strange opportunity that presented itself at the door.

Those foreigners turned out to be commercial agents from none other than Iceland and their walk through the center of Alaior became Pons Quintana's first request. Overnight, they had advanced him 200,000 pesetas to make 1,200 pairs of Chicarro shoes.

Other manufacturers called him crazy, that they would never pay him for that work and that it would be his ruin. I know that my grandfather never doubted that he would achieve anything he set his mind to and that he could not let that opportunity slip away, so he looked for a small space in the convent of San Francisco, where other shoe workshops were located, and he established himself on his own to start making shoes for Iceland. A first adventure that would be the pillar of a lifetime.

Santiago Pons Quintana Workshop, San Francisco Cloister
First Santiago Pons Quintana Workshop in the San Francisco cloister.

From making little shoes, it evolved to making slippers around the house, also for children. He traveled with his suitcases to knock on doors in case any store might be interested, until one day in Madrid, Mr. Ramón Areces, second President of Corte Inglés, encouraged him to manufacture house slippers for women. “Santiago, these children's shoes have to be made for women, it is a comfortable item and will sell well.”

From that suggestion, he managed and hit the nail on the head. He invented the 1042 slipper, a true revolution. “It was a crystal clear clarity based on the simplicity of great things” that took Pons Quintana around the world selling women's slippers.

There are many anecdotes from those years, such as that Queen Elizabeth II herself, on a state trip to Japan, wore slippers made in Menorca inside the imperial palace.

Queen Elizabeth II in Japan with Pons Quintana

From Alayor to New York, they said at that time…

The change in the role of women has brought us to today. This year, PONS QUINTANA turns 70 years old. 70 years of innovation, adaptation and adventures, being today, more than ever, a family business in which the 2nd and 3rd generations coexist in a project that already transcends all continents. We export to more than 40 countries, and we maintain our factory in Alaior, employing more than 100 people from our town, without whom this dream would not have been possible. "He who knows how to work and make an effort always ends up triumphing and at the end of the day, we all end up being what we imagine, what we believe we are, what we insist on being with all our power of self-conviction."

PONS QUINTANA can be found today in the best shoe stores and shopping centers in the world. Perhaps even on small remote islands in the Pacific or in towns hidden in the geography of Europe, where they continue to value the quality and originality that we have inherited over the decades.

Now it's been 3 years since Grandpa left us and weeks since Grandma accompanied him and if we have learned anything from them it is, as Grandma Inés said, those who want to do more than those who can.

Today we seek to bring PONS QUINTANA to the purest essence of love for craftsmanship with the aim of inspiring women with the beauty and colors of the wonderful island of Menorca converted into shoes.

Santiago Pons Quintana in a German newspaper

“and from there you can see that the world belongs to the daring, the daring and enterprising, and that fortune is a good ally of those who know how to take risks and look for it, and that if they stumble, they have to take risks again until they conquer it.”

*Autobiography – BOOK OF MY LIFE, 1996. Santiago Pons Quintana

May it serve as inspiration for dreamers and entrepreneurs.

Gabriela Pons-Quintana Sugrañes

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