One day, a BYU student realized he had no fashionable shoes to fit his desire to look casual, yet professional. Rather than succumb to disappointment, he saw the situation as a way to fulfill a dream.
Since then, Bryce Herman has started his own shoemaking non-profit organization in Nicaragua that not only boosts the local economy but fills a need in the United States. His business is known as Tuani and offers the comfort and style many men are looking for in shoes.
“Bryce is a dreamer, and he knows what he wants to accomplish, and he is willing to do what it takes to get there,” said Cody Bringham, one of Herman’s business partners.
The success of Herman’s business can be found on BYU’s campus, as the business management major is one of many students who walks to and from classes wearing his own products. His shoes cater to students who are striving for a casual everyday look but still want to have a professional edge.
“Tuani shoes are unique,” Herman said. “These shoes are made custom for each person too so they can say, ‘I designed this shoe. I am one of the only people who has this exact shoe.’ It helps them stand out by basically looking better.”
With five unique styles to choose from and eight different leathers, Tuani offers a different, stylized approach to men’s fashion. Customers pick out their own style of shoe and leather, making the shoes a custom match to fit any attire or need.
“You’ve probably seen it,” Herman said. “People try to wear church shoes with normal clothes, and it just looks kind of weird; or they do the opposite and try to wear Nikes with church clothes. Wearing our shoes just makes you feel better and look better. Plus you become more confident. … I love Tuani shoes because they match what I am trying to go for: being unique and more confident.”
Herman’s conception began last fall semester when he met Bringham, who was also studying business management with an emphasis in entrepreneurship. Both had dreams of starting their own businesses; Herman approached Bringham with the idea of starting a non-profit shoe-making business, and the rest is history.
“He told me about his shoes idea and how he had been talking about it for a long time, and that is how it all began,” Bringham said. “Where I was at, I just wanted to do something. I was tired of just talking about it.”
Herman’s entrepreneur bug is contagious and has been a part of him his whole life.
Chalise Petersen, Herman’s younger sister, has fond memories of them growing up together and exploring Herman’s entrepreneur ability.
Petersen and Herman spent a couple of their summers running a small children’s activity group called Creative Crafts. It involved having some of the neighborhood children get together to play and do activities. This business, along with Herman’s other business ideas, was the building foundation for Tuani.
Petersen explained that their parents also had a large impact on Herman’s success as an entrepreneur.
“My dad is a handy man, and my mom taught preschool, so we kind of have a do-it-yourself mentality in our family,” Petersen said. “We don’t need to call someone else to fix it for us — we figure it out ourselves. We are independent and like to do our own thing.”
Herman has taken that independent mindset and has applied it to Tuani. He and Bringham, along with their other business partner, Skyler Holman, have successfully launched Tuani and have begun research in other parts of fashion accessories including wallets, belts and women’s shoes.
Tuani has already made an impression by winning the Audience Choice award at the Ballard Center’s Social Venture Competition last year, but the company would not be as successful if its founder didn’t already have his dream of operating his own non-profit organization.
This mentality is partly what made Herman as successful as it is.
Tuani shoes can be ordered through the company Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/tuanishoes. Prices range around $65. The company is also planning a Kickstarter event this spring to help raise awareness of and funds for Tuani.