American Made Since 2005

Annie Mohaupt

Chicago, Illinois
Mohop specializes in handmade interchangeable shoes that allow nearly infinite design options with just one pair of (comfy!) soles.

Tell us about your business.

I established Mohop in 2005 to satisfy a craving to work more with my hands. As a former architect, the intersection of form and function shapes the basis of my design philosophy and translates perfectly to the world of footwear. My favorite materials are found in the world of architecture and interiors - sustainably sourced woods, exquisite upholstery made from recycled bottles, flooring composed of tire rubber, gorgeous decorative nails and other unique or innovative materials inspire me. I love to manipulate these materials using both traditional methods such as hand screen printing, sawing, and sanding, as well as non-traditional methods such as computer numerical control (CNC) routing, laser cutting, and soon, 3D printing. I'm a big nerd and am super excited about all the fun to come further exploring traditional and non-traditional materials and techniques in order to make footwear that delights with unique materials, innovative forms and, of course, a comfortable fit!

What makes your business stand out?

The most fundamental unique characteristic of my business is simply that there are very few shoemakers in the US - or worldwide for that matter. Furthermore, I am self-taught, so while some of my techniques are based on traditional shoemaking, other methods come from the world of architecture, woodworking and computer-assisted manufacturing. My "mad scientist" basement prototyping adventures even lead me to a patent on my original interchangeable design! The aspect of my business that I'm most excited about is the collaborative nature of my footwear designs. I make the base of the shoes, but the upper ties and decorative accessories can be made by other artists and designers such as jewelers, fiber artists, and fashion designers - and then our customers literally tie it all together! It's so exciting and gratifying to see Mohop fans and collaborators transform shoes that started out as my babies into their own unique creations, reflecting their individual style and personality.

What's the best business advice you've received?

The best business advice I've received was simply "keep going" from my family, friends and supporters. Running, and trying to grow, a small business can be incredibly taxing emotionally, physically, intellectually - really, in every way. There are times when I become utterly exhausted and buried with work, yet the support of my loved ones keeps me pushing hard and has sustained me through the past 8 years of running Mohop. Just keeping carrying on, especially when times are tough, has taught me the fulfillment of hard work, the satisfaction of solving complicated problems, and the absolute joy of the relationships I've formed over the years with my fellow workers, collaborators, and especially my customers. I could not be more grateful to my customers for not just financially sustaining my business, but even more for their kindness, enthusiasm and warm friendship that truly makes each day brighter!

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    Oct. 17, 2014

    2014 Award Winner and Audience Choice Winner announced.

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    Nov. 7, 2014

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    Nov. 8, 2014

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