We sat down (virtually) for a Q&A session with Susana Cruz AKA @ChicanainNature. We wanted to learn more about Chicana in Nature’s mission and what led her to being a loyal member of the #ChacoNation! Get to know Susana and her journey to finding footwear that fit her lifestyle.
Images by: Ashlee Freese
Chaco: How did you come up with Chicana in Nature? How did it start?
Susana: Once upon a time, a little Chicana was born to a teacher who wore chanclas. These chanclas were thick-soled and reminded the teacher of the chanclas she would see while growing up in Mexico. The teacher taught her daughter to explore, think for herself, and to be strong. Her daughter, the little Chicana would remember the chanclas and would try to emulate her mother by wearing flip flops as much as possible. That little girl was me,
Susana Cruz, Chicana In Nature.
Chaco: What are Chanclas?
Susana: Chanclas are a Spanish term that we use to talk about flip flops. They can sometimes come with a negative connotation, because families utilize them as a disciplinary action. People will say “oh your mom used the Chancla huh?” I mean, as a kid I deserved all the “chanclas” I got, I was a child that pushed limits— I still do!
Chaco: Why did you start wearing Chanclas?
Susana: My mother had a pair of chanclas that she would wear all the time. I’ve always respected my mother, she has three kids, she’s taught thousands of children here in Dallas, so many people respect her. I don’t think she realizes how much she means to me and how much I look up to her, as an educator, as a woman— she’s one of the strongest people I know. I looked at her with her chanclas, so that’s why I wore them, and why I continued to wear them.
Chaco: How did you hear about Chacos?
Susana: I was working in the camping industry and there are tons of people who wear Chacos. There was a year when I met a lady who was a total fangirl for Chacos. She wore them everyday, including her wedding! At the time it didn’t make sense for me to buy them. I was working at sports camps, and we were always on land. I didn’t see the need to spend money on a pair of shoes that were waterproof. I was also very brand-loyal to some flip flops at the time, but if I would’ve looked at it closer I would’ve seen that I was replacing those flip flops every six months, continually buying them over and over again. I wasn’t saving money, in fact I’m pretty sure I wasted a lot of money on some chanclas.
Chaco: So what made you buy your first pair of Chacos?
Susana: In 2018, I wound up working at a camp that was on top of a watershed. Their trails were constantly wet and disgusting, I ruined a pair of hiking sneakers that I bought because of those trails. I eventually used the ProDeal that was offered through the camp, which made buying a pair of Chacos very affordable for me. The Z/Clouds are now the ones that I really use, I have two pairs with the harder sole too— I trade them off. If I’m going on a rockier trail, I wear my Chacos with the harder sole. If I’m hiking some easier trails or just on the pavement, I wear my Z/Clouds. I’m very partial to the toe loop. Even though I stopped wearing chanclas, I still have to have something between my toes!
Chaco: How do you feel about your Chacos now?
Susana: Well, recently I was walking through a gorge in the Rio Grande river. Everyone I was with started to take their shoes off to walk barefoot through the water. I knew my boots weren’t going to make it across, so I tried to walk barefoot too. I started to feel unbalanced, like I was legitimately about to fall over, so I stepped out and put my Chacos on. Then everyone turned around to look at me and said “Oh so that’s how you get your superpowers, you put your Chacos on!” All that to say, I did have to break them in, but once I did I realized what the rest of the Chaco Nation experiences; the love for shoes that fit my active lifestyle. Now I recommend Chacos to everyone!
To learn more about Susana Cruz and Chicana in Nature, go chicanainnature.com or follow along at @ChicanainNature.