random adventures,  SMALL BUSINESS EVERYDAY

small business everyday series – CHINELAS shoes for adventurous soles

We’ve heard it before and we’ll hear it again, small businesses make up the fabric of this great nation. Um, right now, not so much. Since the federal government is not stepping up, it’s up to us to set the example. As consumers our power is where we choose to spend our money. Lately, I find myself wondering how I can become that change I want to see so I’m starting small.

I’m a small business (tour guide & blogger). I have many friends who are small business owners as well. Small businesses deserve more than one Saturday during the holidays so I propose starting a SMALL BUSINESS EVERYDAY campaign. This post is a first in a series of spreading the word of phenomenal small businesses & their owners that I’m happy & lucky to call my friends.

I would like to introduce you to Chinelas – Shoes for Adventurous Soles. The most amazing shoe company I stumbled upon in the Pedway in the loop (downtown Chicago) last fall. I had just gotten back from Tahiti (on an amazing volunteer trip) and was running some errands. My watch stopped and I needed a battery so I headed to the Pedway in Block 37.


For those of you who don’t know about the Pedway, it is a series of underground tunnels (sidewalks) and overhead bridges and covers about 40 blocks (approximately five miles) in downtown Chicago. It started back in 1951 when the city built one-block tunnels connecting the Red Line and Blue Line subways at Washington Street and Jackson Boulevard. Since then, both public and private investment have expanded the Pedway and it now connects 50 buildings. Maps marked with the Pedway compass direct you where you can go and it can be a lifesaver when inclimate weather hits.

Depending on which part of the Pedway you are in, you will find a variety of shops, stores, restaurants and it is usually connected to a train station or subway. You can even see beautiful stained glass and a swimming pool! While it’s pretty well known and used by locals, you have probably seen parts of it in movies as well. For example, a portion of The Dark Knight was filmed in Millennium train station.

chinelas – shoes for adventurous soles

Back to Chinelas. The colorful, inviting store immediately grabbed my attention and I had to go in and check it out. Dangerous territory for me since shoes are my downfall. As I was perusing the selection of the beautifully made & comfortable slipper-like shoes, I started chatting with the owner Christine. Friendly and welcoming, she filled me in on where the idea came from and how the shoes were made.

Growing up, her mother would take her grandmother out shopping and her grandmother would wear her “chanlas” (house shoes). Her mother would almost die of embarrassment but her grandmother didn’t care because they were the most comfortable shoes she owned! This memory sparked the birth of Chinelas.

Christine started as a shoe truck. You know, like a food truck but with shoes, genius! She traveled from festival to festival, enjoyed meeting people and all the while developing her client base. Since it was a challenge in the winter to have a shoe truck, she was looking into spaces that could accommodate a truck. Yes, actually pulling the truck into the mall. After getting Block 37 on board with her truck idea she ended up going with a pop-up shop instead and hasn’t looked back.

She works with many small international businesses to produce the variety and styles of shoes she sells in her store inspired by traditional footwear from around the world. Clearly passionate about her business she pointed out that it not only included the beautiful shoe collection and a variety of other interesting products but also a cafe in the back which serves a delicious assortment of Argentinian food made by her husband.

Her husband Chef Mike was raised in an Italian/German family filled with love and good food. As a young adult he enjoyed cooking with his mother and grandmother and was always eager to learn more. Marrying into an Argentine family he was mesmerized with the culture and food of the locals and soon enough was preparing specialized dishes he learned from his mother-in-law and her family. 

macanudo mate

Growing up in an Argentine Family, whenever something INCREDIBLE or FABULOUS would happen, her father would yell ¡Macanudo! Mate, short for Yerba Mate, is the tea of choice in South America which also has incredible health benefits. In honor of her father, she named the cafe Macanudo Mate which means Fabulous Tea.

The prominent tea section showcases yerba mate tea and all the accessories that one needs in order to make a proper cup. Scattered throughout the lively space are charming displays that feature a variety of products including colorful candles, puppets, socks and bags. It really does feel like you are in a market in another part of the world!

There is a cozy corner to sit and have a drink and a snack and another clever area, a travel-inspired section with a typewriter, a couple of atlases and gold star stickers for customers to specify their hometowns or favorite travel destinations.

The note in the typewriter reads: Welcome to Chinelas & Macanudo Mate. El Caminito Buenos Aires – Where tango is danced in the streets and the markets are filled with artisans. This was our inspiration in combining both my husbands love for cooking in the cafe & my passion for designing shoes. We decided to unite both our companies in one location.


Since the pandemic hit Christine has launched her website. Click here to check it out. She hopes to reopen her store in the Block 37 Pedway in July after the holiday so if you find yourself in the loop you should check it out. If not, you can always go to the website.

I just love my Babas (Moroccoan house shoe) and have my eye on a new pair the MuShu, inspired by the Japanese room shoe. The boots are super cute as well. If you are a shoe freak like me, you need to check them out. They are so comfortable and I wear them all the time. They remind me of my trip to Tahiti and since we were so busy and didn’t have time to shop, I just had to buy a pair and consider them my souvenir.

I hope you enjoyed meeting Christine & learning about Chinelas. I admire her entrepreneurial spirit and making her memory a reality. Meeting people like her are a source of inspiration for me and this series.

It’s time to unite and support our small businesses now more than ever. So please help spread the word & join my SMALL BUSINESS EVERYDAY campaign by liking & sharing this post. Do you know a fabulous small business owner or have a small business in mind that more people need to know about? If so, send me an email at mimi@adventuresofcitygirl.com. I have a few more lined up but I’m always interested in meeting & learning about more amazing entrepreneurs.

Until the next adventure my friends. Be well & stay safe!


  • Megan

    This is so important – especially now. I always try to shop small so compiling this list is so awesome!

  • mimi

    Thanks Megan. Stay tuned for more amazing small businesses to be featured!

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