Graham Smith and Gerrit-Jan van Velze met for the first time in a local pub in the village of Harlestone, Northamptonshire.
Graham comes from a long line of British artisans. Originally making their name as coach builders, the Smith family were renowned for their master craftsmanship. Mr Smith’s eye for meticulous detailing ensures that the finest quality is laced through every pair of boots made at Van Velze & Smith.
Gerrit-Jan is of dutch heritage but South African born and makes a living as a professional rugby player. Einstein believed that the only source of knowledge is experience and with that in mind GJ made the decision to move to Northamptonshire, England, in order to pursue his dream.
On 12 October 2012 Mr Smith and Mr van Velze stumbled across each other in the professed shoe capital of the world, Northamptonshire. Graham was unconvinced by GJ's choice of clothing; he was more impressed with his choice of footwear and thus a budding conversation ensued.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Mr Smith, a master craftsman and Mr van Velze, a person who believes life is about making memories.
The only thing left to do was to start making the boots.
"No one is useless in the world who lightens the burdens of another" – Charles Dickens
The Van Velze & Smith story is one of careful evolution. Whilst development of our own brand is very important, the opportunity to help other is a challenge we relish.
Up until the age of 13, South African children play rugby barefoot. Poverty and suffering through parts of South Africa is no secret and means many children aren't able to continue playing rugby after the age of 13 as their parents cannot afford the necessary footwear.
Rugby's core values are all based around teamwork, comradery and access for all, as such we at Van Velze & Smith want to uphold these values.
This season, for every pair of boots sold, VVS pledges to donate a pair of rugby boots to a child with the same dream as 13 year old GJ dreaming of a career as a professional sportsman.