Welcome to our Inspired By Series, a celebration of connections with like-minded individuals, spotlighting inspiring women, entrepreneurs, and change-makers who are shaping a positive impact in their communities. 


In this exclusive feature, we invite you to step into the world of ESSĒN, a remarkable footwear & accessories label, through the lens of its founder, Marre Muijs. ESSĒN isn't merely about crafting beautiful pieces; it's a journey infused with passion and purpose, inspired by Marre's love for design and her commitment to sustainability. Born from a desire to create stylish, yet environmentally responsible footwear, ESSĒN stands as a testament to Marre's dedication to ethical fashion. From the selection of materials to the production process, ESSĒN exemplifies Marre's dedication to creating timeless pieces that resonate with authenticity, style, and a conscious approach to fashion.

What led you to start ESSĒN? Tell us about your journey to creating the company that you HAVE BUILT TODAY. 

Before starting ESSEN, I had various jobs in the fashion and creative industries. The longer I worked in the industry, the more I understood how it was missing the mark and needed to redirect itself to be more responsible and less compromising in its products and processes.


Despite working in footwear at the time, I could not find good quality, timeless shoes that were comfortable and ethically made - this was my motivation to launch ESSEN.


ESSEN is centered around versatile dressing so you can maximise your wardrobe and minimise your impact on the environment. We offer a permanent collection of no-compromise staples: timeless classics that are reimagined in new ways that feel chic without any effort.



My design philosophy has always been based around a respect for those key items in your wardrobe – meaningful essentials that stand the test of time. I’m inspired by women’s day-to-day realities. Busy lifestyles call for practical yet stylish shoes and to me - comfort is luxury. I believe that what a woman wears will have a direct impact on how she feels. Shoes carry us, add height, alter posture and bolster confidence. They transform a woman in a way that few other items of clothing can. My shoes are hardworking, reimagined classics; they need to be wearable and sophisticated, but never boring. I want women to feel confident and comfortable and not waste too much time thinking about what they’re wearing.


I’m always looking for simplicity and comfort in what I wear: classic pieces, with a twist. Comfort is confidence - you can feel it in your stride, pace and presence.

Essentials need to be exactly what you need - nothing more, nothing less. My goal with creating comfortable shoes is to make women feel empowered and confident for the day ahead.  A great capsule wardrobe has a strong foundation of those wardrobe essentials - timeless pieces that will carry over from season-to-season and lay the foundation for most of your outfits. These wardrobe staples help you to get dressed easily, make your closet versatile, and can easily be mixed-and-matched and worn from day to night.

I love a good coat, beautiful blazer, a timeless and practical handbag and of course - shoes. 

Who are your style icons?

I don’t really have go-to style icons as my inspiration comes from everywhere: my friends, art, everyday life. I love unexpected details and combinations.

How would you describe the ESSĒN WOMAN? 

I never design for just one type of woman, I am constantly inspired by women all over the world and design based on the day-to-day realities of the modern woman. I believe that what you wear has a direct impact on the way you feel, which can have a profound impact on every aspect of your life. 

ESSEN shoes are hardworking classics that are aesthetically beautiful, supremely comfortable and ethically made. They allow you to move seamlessly and confidently through your day, without compromising on style, comfort and craftsmanship. They’re the type of shoes I believe a woman will not only feel great in, but do great in day after day.

My designs are worn by women who embrace their femininity whilst pursuing their goals. It’s about giving her autonomy and allowing her to fulfill whichever role she wants to fulfill, whether that’s being a stay-at-home mum or being a creative director or lawyer. 



How important is the provenance and sustainability when it comes to sourcing the material for your beautiful shoes and accessories. 

For us sustainability is a mindset, once you’ve started questioning things and opened your eyes, it will naturally infiltrate everything you do. 

When it comes to crafting shoes the slow way, I refuse to compromise. With every ESSEN style we create, we carefully consider the environmental and social impact of a product across its entire life cycle. All of our shoes are handmade in Italy, Portugal and Spain in solar-powered factories by master artisans who have been making shoes for generations. From the leather selection, the engineering of the lasts and the hand finishing of the shoes - the entire range is handmade by people who care about every single pair produced.  

Leather is incredibly durable and can be an eco-friendly material, so we exclusively use LGW-gold and silver certified non-toxic leathers that have minimum impact on the environment and the people that work with them. All our tanneries have undergone an environmental impact audit by the Leather Working Group (LWG) to ensure they comply with the strict supply chain protocols. We only ever use leather that is a by-product of the meat industry, meaning it would otherwise go to waste. We will never use exotic skins.

I’m also exploring innovative synthetic alternatives to leather, but a perfect solution, free of fossil fuels, is not yet market ready. 

Circularity and sustainability in footwear is still extremely difficult to achieve, as shoes are typically made from a variety of different materials that are engineered to stick together, making them near impossible to disassemble. So in order to make a business truly sustainable, the design process also involves exploring and creating better systems and thinking about each part of the supply chain in a holistic way.


Finally I always remind myself and my team that it’s progress, not perfection we’re pursuing. We are committed to making more responsible choices wherever possible so it's easier for customers to make them too.

How does ESSEN’s on demand manufacturing model resonate with customers in an era accustomed to fast fashion?

Overproduction in the fashion industry represents one of the most significant environmental threats facing our world today. At ESSEN, we encourage consumers to buy less, choose thoughtfully, and wear longer. 

Our small-batch, on-demand production model allows us to accurately forecast and only manufacture what we have already sold. This way we can make smarter use of resources, minimise up to 90% of waste associated with traditional manufacturing processes and eliminate overproduction.

By pre-ordering, customers know they are supporting small businesses and providing artisans fair compensation for their craft, while also ensuring continuous employment. When you pre-order with ESSEN, you aren’t getting a pair of shoes that have been sitting around in a warehouse for months. By choosing products that are made-to-order, you have something to look forward to and we hope that builds a stronger connection between our customers and their shoes & accessories. 

“There is so much power in our purchasing decisions. Every action - no matter how small - makes an impact."

Today's informed, conscious consumers are driving brands towards greater sustainability and transparency and we encourage all businesses and brands to consider their environmental and social impacts.

Your philosophy on ‘the essence of less’ resonates deeply with us. Could you elaborate on how the principle guides ESSEN’s approach to design, production and sustainability. 

ESSEN is built on a foundation of conscious design, considered consumption and ethical production. Every decision we make is underlined by these guiding principles.


When designing, we aim to craft shoes made to last a lifetime. We use durable, raw materials like chrome-free leather, aniline leather, recycled rubber and metals that minimise environmental impact and protect workers. 

We only make our shoes in small batches or on-demand, to prevent overproduction and cut waste by up to 90%. When you order from ESSEN, expert artisans handcraft shoes just for you in ethical, solar-powered factories using generations-old techniques.

Even our logistics reflect our values. We’re based in Australia but our fulfillment center is in Europe, close to where our factories are. This allows small-batch production, low inventory, and quick restocking to meet demand with a lower carbon footprint.

In order to illustrate the sustainability impact of our products to customers prior to purchase we recently partnered with the independent platform Renoon to take our transparency efforts to the next level. Using blockchain technology and on-demand analysis, Renoon gathers and verifies information to show the complete product journey and determine each product’s compliance state. This information is then displayed across multiple points with the Digital Product Passport and QR code, scannable from your shoebox.


We’ve always been proud of the hard work that goes into crafting our shoes and their stories, and together we can now translate the information and certifications we already have into verified and verifiable values.

“We’re on a mission to maximise your wardrobe while minimising your environmental impact, and the materials we use are key.”

What is the best piece of advice you've ever received? 

You have to solve something meaningful (to you). Starting a company is hard – it’s never static and a constant grind, so you really have to enjoy what you’re doing and work on something that means a lot to you. We can’t control everything that comes at us, but we can control our reaction to it, which is very important in the turbulent world of startups! 

It’s important to be curious, flexible and resilient. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and always act with integrity. People want to do business with good people.



Exclusive access to our new High Winter '24 Collection. Pre-order and receive late May. 

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