About Universole and the Founder and CEO


UNIVERSOLE was created to partner with organizations and vocational centers in impoverished areas; to teach at risk women, orphans aging out of the orphanage, and survivors of human trafficking a way out, via leather skills and SHOE MAKING.

The goal of UNIVERSOLE is to empower the survivors with sustainable skills. These skills allow these women to earn a respectable income and provide for their families with DIGNITY; to have HOPE and a FUTURE. UNIVERSOLE will only work with proven vocational centers that do not use or exploit children.

These handmade leather products are purchased from the vocational centers, shipped back to the United States, marketed and sold. The sale of these items helps sustain training and bring attention to the plight of women being sold into human trafficking.

UNIVERSOLE, with a future ambition to expand into multiple countries, teaches product designs that have been specifically created with the culture and products indigenous to that country in mind. For example, in India, the traditional sari was incorporated into their shoe design. All materials and equipment were purchased locally, helping the merchants and economy of that community.

Erika Lynn McKelvey

Graduating from college in June 2012 and growing up in the most amazing family, I was given experiences and opportunities that shaped my character and made me who I am today. My parents had the desire for my brother and me to travel within the United States and abroad to see the needs of others. I have had the incredible opportunity of traveling to Romania every summer, since I was 9 years old, for a mission trip. We worked with orphans, street kids, and the elderly. The people of Romania quickly became my second family. I grew up with a heart and a passion to empower others in need.

When it was time for me to attend college, my parents allowed me to have the amazing opportunity to pursue my dream of becoming a Footwear and Accessory Designer, by attending Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). At SCAD, I learned how to design and make shoes, handbags, and other accessories. At the time of graduation, many were recommending interviews with designers that would take me on a high fashion career path working in New York or Los Angeles. Deep in my heart, I felt the need to start my own business to eventually be able to use my passion to help those with less opportunity to learn a skill and become productive citizens in their own country.

December 2012, I founded UNIVERSOLE.