College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

VIDEO: Alumnus Launches Charitable Company

Heart & Sole

Ole Miss Alumni Review Fall 2014 issue

Click here to read the Ole Miss Alumni Review story, Heart & Sole: Alumnus Pairs Compassion With Fashion >>

Patrick Woodyard’s company, Nisolo, features high-quality, fashionable leather shoes and accessories for men and women of all ages. Nisolo provides entrepreneurs and artisans in communities around the world with access to new markets.

“Nisolo addresses the issues of job creation and quality education in impoverished communities,” said Woodyard (B.A. international studies and Spanish ’10).

“Through the purchase of our products, consumers are supporting job creation as we purposely contract impoverished producers who, through their work, empower themselves to shape their own future. Additionally, consumers directly contribute to quality education projects as we donate 10 percent of our profits to education programs in the impoverished areas where our producers live. That way, not only is empowerment offered through stable jobs, but opportunity is shaped into reality for the thousands of bright young minds willing to make lasting change in their communities.”

Woodyard said that his experience at UM influenced his career path.

“The roots for Nisolo trace back to my early years at Ole Miss,” he said. “As early as the fall of 2005, teachers and administrators like Dr. Debra Young at the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and Dean of Students Sparky Reardon encouraged me to dream big and follow my passions. That eventually led to the start of Hope for Africa (now, EDUganda), my time as Associated Student Body Director of Community Service, and active involvement as the Philanthropy Chairman and Vice President of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.”

A recipient of the Barksdale Award in 2008, Woodyard was given the opportunity to apply what he learned in the classroom and developed the Adopt-a-Student Program in Uganda.

“The education, experience, and encouragement I received at Ole Miss gave me the confidence and know-how necessary to shape broad ideas into true substance and true change in the world,” Woodyard said.

After graduation, Woodyard spent a year volunteering with Peru Mission at a microfinance institute administering a lending program and heading up a business training program for small business owners in impoverished neighborhoods of Trujillo, Peru. This gave him the opportunity to help provide access to quality education and stable jobs to a number of small-scale shoemakers and their families.

“Carrying with me all that I had learned in Oxford, I knew that if the right team were assembled and passionate dedication followed, a small dream could explode into something big and offer a transformational impact on the communities where I had been living,” he said.

Woodyard said he believes in long-term, sustainable economic development built on community and holistic approaches to poverty alleviation.

“Nisolo is about empowerment,” he said. “We long to provide impoverished entrepreneurs and their communities with the tools and resources necessary to help themselves. Through this come dignity, sustainability, and true change.”

Nisolo’s launch party was held on Oct. 6 at the Powerhouse in Oxford. The event kicked off a two-month, 14-city tour throughout the South. All Nisolo shoes and accessories were available for purchase. Other October stops for Nisolo include Memphis, Tupelo, Nashville, Birmingham, and Jackson.

Woodyard has big plans for the company’s future.

“Beginning with handmade leather shoes in Trujillo, Peru, our broader vision is to provide impoverished entrepreneurs in communities around the world with access to new markets,” Woodyard said. “We already have contacts and ideas in Guatemala, Uganda and the Highlands of Peru. Our goal is to partner with consumers in the developed world to create long-term, sustainable growth by supporting job creation and access to quality education through the sale of quality, fashionable products. Join us, and wear change.”

For more information about Nisolo, visit www.nisoloshoes.com or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/nisoloshoes.