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The Founding Story

Founded 2012 by Anna Dickmann and Armin Gretzmeier
Selling exclusively by themselves
3% des Umsatzes gehen an Kinderstiftung
Poron XRD technology, innovative materials like Piñatex
Individually customizable, special requests can be fulfilled.
Number of complaints under 1%
Handmade in Germany

Chala® is the own brand that was created by the barefoot shoes experts at Voycontigo. It was founded by Anna Dickmann and Armin Gretzmeier in the year 2012. The name Chala comes from the Latin-American and means in Chile as much as “Sandal made from red leather”

After the initial development and testing phase of 3 months in the summer of 2012 there are now 7 models to choose from on the market. The most important ones are the Classic models and the EVO collection. Newly added to the range this year is the distinctive and exceptional Piñatex collection.

All our Chala sandals can be customized to your liking though our configurator tool we offer 3 different choices. When you get to know our sandals better and customize them according to our instructions you´ll have a special relation to your sandals as you´ll value them more and they are going to fit much better on your feet. 

If that takes too much effort then you can also order our simple “ready-to-wear” kit, in short in the configurator as well as on the model-level simply order a customized production and send us the outlining of your feet through our dimension sheet and we´ll customize your sandal according to your feet´s unique shape so that fits and feels better on your feet.

If you are skillful with your hand then we can also recommend our “Expert-kit” which includes the unprocessed sole plate in a square shape from which you can simply cut out your sandal by yourself. The “ready-to-wear” kit includes a pair of sandals in the size your ordered that can easily be customized by yourself at home and with the “Individual-kit” you get a pair of sandals that we customize to your feet during the manufacturing process, so that you don´t have to do that anymore.

Nowadays we have 7 employees in the development and production department but we know already that we´ll have to employ many more as the demand for our Chala sandals is constantly growing as we were able to reach a high level of fame by satisfying many customers with our unique product.

During our first year we started with the first person to wear our sandals and ended with over 1000 at the end of the season without putting any effort into marketing: we have sold all those sandals only by our own means of sales like our store.

We are already working on developing new models because of all the positive feedback we´re getting but the most important aspect of our sandals is sustainability so we constantly keep on improving our product through the feedback we´re getting from our test-runners and our test- groups as we believe that only by improving our sandals we can make them increasingly sustainable – and more people share their positive experience that way by telling their friends and families, so sometimes we have to delay the development of new models. 

We produce our sandals exclusively in Germany (in Freiburg). Keeping our development, production and sales conditions fair and ethical is the most important aspect for us, that´s why 95% of the materials we use for our production come from Germany and most of them are certified according to the strict Öko-Tex standards.

One more characteristic worth mentioning is the social engagement of Chala as we donate 3% of all our revenue to the children´s foundation “Little Light Feet” which supports the children of the Tarahumara and Mayo people in Latin America.

Who stands behind the Brand?

The founders of the brand Chala are Armin Gretzmeier, owner of voycontigo since 2004 and self- employed. But he didn´t start into the shoe business right away as he first started with an apprenticeship as a gold- and silversmith. After successfully ending his apprenticeship he continued his education by graduating in business management and at the same time he was able to gain experience in the retail business.

After many years in this line of work Armin Gretzmeier can now rely on his 9 years of experience in the barefoot shoe industry. Aside from being busy operating a store in Freiburg and one in Berlin which sell barefoot shoes from different brands and his own barefoot sandals brand Chala he also sells them though his online shops, barfuß and

And how does the saying go: behind a strong man there is always a strong woman on his side!

Anna Dickmann trained educator. Through the many years of working as an educator she is very skilled in dealing with people and has a reliable gut instinct. In the year 2008 she switched to working full-time in the barefoot shoe retail store voycontigo and co-founded the own brand of barefoot sandals Chala in the year 2012. Her duties include the important administration, caring for the employees, controlling the work processes, purchasing the raw materials and the customer service – there has to be someone to take care of the chaos behind the scenes ;)

The Idea!

The initial idea for the Chala sandals is actually quiet old. It comes originally from the Tarahumara natives that developed this kind of shoe manufacturing hundreds of years ago. The tribe of the Tarahumara from the northern parts of Mexico is well-known for their ability to walk long distances by foot. In the past they evolved into real endurance athletes that can easily walk distances of over 300km. Most times they go completely barefoot or equipped with a pair of sandals – the Huaraches. These sandals are as simple as they are ingenious: basically it´s only a sole that´s tied to their feet with some laces. Their feet are protected from dirt and injuries and at the same time their feet are able to move completely free.

This minimalistic sandal inspired Armin – he founded “Chala”, improved the sandal and perfected it for the “European” feet. Through the choice between the different „Kit-Versions“ every sandal can be customized to your own feet and is therefore a truly unique pair of sandals. With some creativity and fantasy your able to customize them even further so that they match your own taste and style. As the sandals consist of only the sole and the laces they don´t take up much space for shipping and are lightweight too.

Chala® produces the sandals exclusively in its sandal manufactory (area of 300sqm) in Freiburg im Breisgau in Germany and 95% of the used materials like the leather, the glue, the laces and the soles for its production are bought from German suppliers, even the packaging material. Only recently in the year 2016 the production space has been enlarged so that now there is space for up to 14 employees to be able to satisfy the ever growing demand for the handmade sandals. The manufactory will also in the future stay in Freiburg and thereby strengthen the local economy. 

Through this commitment you can see the environment idea behind the planning and production for Chala that´s further confirmed by exclusively using glue, textile bags, leather and other different environment-friendly materials that meet the strict Öko-Tex standards

Even though it should be self-evident that we ensure fair working conditions and oppose any kind of exploitation of our employees and child labor we´d like to mention here once more. Actually it´s quite the opposite as we depend on qualified and skilled employees and a big part of our success is due to their dedicated work throughout the whole season and the extra miles many of them go to ensure that our customers get their perfect pair of sandals on their feet.

We test and offer our Chala sandals for 5 years now and are satisfied with their functionality and the high quality standards they meet: Each sandal last easily for 2-3 seasons of 8 months of daily use (March-October). One key factor in reaching this long-lasting durability is due to the glue that we use that´s extremely reliable and environment-friendly at the same time.

Our high-quality organic leather is another key factor that reaches long-lasting durability with only a bit of care and even though it should be clear we´d like to point out that our leather sandals can´t be machine-washed: to get them clean and treat them you should use special leather care products.

And because it is possible to resole your sandals when your soles have rubbed off after years of daily use you can expect to enjoy wearing them much longer than 3 summer seasons.

Not only are we ourselves satisfied with our Chala sandals that we´ve created – our customers seem to share the same satisfaction as only 1 of 100 pairs of sandals gets complained about which then can be sent back to us for a repair or we simply swap it for a new pair of sandals

Chala – the urban barefoot experience, until next time kind regards from Anna and Armin