Pulling Back The Curtain: Naot
The word Naot means “oasis” in Hebrew.
Northern Israel-based footwear manufacturer, Teva Naot (aka Naot), has been offering an impressive anatomical footpad for men and women since 1942.
They are one of Israel’s top manufacturers and exporter of shoes and sandals.
Naot began as a small one-room factory run by members of Kibbutz Neot Mordechai. A kibbutz is a village-like collective community, generally centered on agriculture. Jewish immigrants from Czechoslovakia, Germany and Austria established this community, located in Upper Galilee, in the 1940s.
Never in those immigrants’ wildest dreams did they imagine their humble beginnings would result in the international success Naot enjoys today.
Naot operates two factories in Northern Israel and 60 retailer outlets. More impressive than the growth of their business and the comfort of their shoes is the fact that in such a war-torn country, their West Bank factory workers are both Israelis and Palestinians working peacefully side-by-side.
For over 40 years, Naot has employed Palestinians at full Israeli wages. They are committed to continuing this practice despite the political environment.
Naot is one of the largest suppliers of economic opportunities for several communities in the West Bank, employing the most Palestinians than any other company.
Steve Lax, co-owner with his wife, Susan (of Naot’s U.S. distributor Yaleet, Inc, who acquired Naot in 2014), had this to say about their distinctive blend of workers: "We believe that every sandal is a sandal of peace, as each one is handmade by the joint effort of Israelis and Palestinians."
Naot’s technology accounts significantly for their long-run success.
Their uniquely engineered insoles are a blend of natural latex and cork, providing shock absorption to help support the spine. The upper portions of the shoes are structured for ease and unrestrained movement. Finally, their flexible soles are lightweight for a carefree stride. All of this happens without taking away from the stylish elegance of the design.
However, the most remarkable part of the shoe is the comfort brought about by the insole.
These insoles are designed to replicate the shape of your feet, with their impressions forming into the footbed, just like the footprint you leave when walking in the sand. Here are the components of this technology:
• The Hallux support enables a natural hold of the big toe, which prevents the foot from slipping forward. It also improves the foot’s hold on the shoe.
Elevated footbed center
• The elevated center of the insole releases pressure in the joints of the central part of the foot.
• The arch support enables the weight of the body to be correctly distributed. This reduces pressure generated by the spinal column and joints.
Deep heel indentation
• The deep heel indentation helps the body’s balance and maintains the natural shape of the pad of the heel, giving continual protection to the heel bone.
Flexibility, durability & shock absorption
• The comfort footbed is made of a unique, high-quality blend of cork and latex. This gives the shoe the flexibility and shock absorbing qualities for long-term durability.
Latex sponge layer
• The latex sponge is a layer of padding that provides caressing of the feet.
Every year since 1991, teaming up with Yaleet, Inc. (even before the acquisition), Naot contributes over 15,000 pairs of shoes to non-profits across the United States to benefit the disenfranchised, the homeless and victims of domestic violence.
Through their retailers, Naot’s generous shoe donations equate to thousands per week going to battered women, women shelters and homeless shelters throughout the United States. They also donate to hurricane victims and drug rehabilitation facilities.
Today, with the handy work of approximately 700 factory workers, each Naot shoe is handmade with the finest and highest quality of raw materials. Combine that with their superior standards of advanced design and their magnificent array of eye-catching styles, it’s easy to see why they’ve gained such a large and loyal customer following.
Naot’s international success includes markets in the United States, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom and Australia. They continue to offer new and exciting collections of comfortable shoes, clogs and sandals each year, bringing joy and happiness around the world—as their “one step at a time” slogan states.
Many would agree, Naot is truly the shoe of peace.