Canyon County

Nampa ‘shoe that grows’ maker is growing itself, into former Yesteryear Shoppe space

Nampa native helps kids around the world with shoes that grow

After seeing children in Africa going barefoot and getting sick, and wearing shoes far too small, Nampa native Kenton Lee and a bunch of his friends invented a shoe that can grow five sizes and last five years.
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After seeing children in Africa going barefoot and getting sick, and wearing shoes far too small, Nampa native Kenton Lee and a bunch of his friends invented a shoe that can grow five sizes and last five years.

The Shoe That Grows organization is growing.

It is now under the banner of Because International, a nonprofit that distributes expandable shoes to children in developing countries. Because recently acquired the building that until recently housed the Yesteryear Shoppe, a rare-book store, in downtown Nampa. It plans to locate offices for itself and for-profit companies there.

That building, at 1211 1st St. S., has 24,000 square feet in their new building. Because uses just 4,000 square feet, split between offices for its 12 employees and a warehouse for its shoes.

Development Director Nathan Roskam said Because will consider subletting parts of the space for other businesses and “crowd source” ideas from the community.

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Because International will move into this building in downtown Nampa, the former home of the Yesteryear Shoppe. Katherine Jones kjones@idahostatesman.com

Part of the space will be an innovation lab, called Pursuit, which wll provide office space and mentorship for entrepreneurs creating social-good products, Roskam said.

The nonprofit’s mission has broadened to create and distribute a suite of social-good products, he said.

Because has added a second production plant for its shoes in Ethiopia, where it employs 19 people. In 2017 made about 30,000 pairs of shoes there. Because has distributed over 200,000 pairs of shoes in over 100 countries, Roskam said.

Because recently launched a new product — a bed-net tent for children. It has distributed 700 so far, he said.

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After seeing children in Africa going barefoot and getting sick, and wearing shoes far too small, Kenton Lee and a bunch of his friends invented a shoe that can grow five sizes and last five years. Katherine Jones kjones@idahostatesman.com

This is the nonprofit’s 10th year.

“Making it to that 10-year mark and having a space does signal that you’re rooted,” Roskam said. “We want to be around for 20, 30 years.”

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Kate reports on West Ada and Canyon County for the Idaho Statesman. She previously wrote for the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Providence Business News. She has been published in The Atlantic and BuzzFeed News. Kate graduated from Brown University with a degree in urban studies.
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