Bear & Mees, is a new children’s label in footwear. The new brand is animal-friendly, made from sustainable materials and produced in Portugal.

Origin of the idea

After Ellen Rijntjes had developed ladies’ shoes for the fashion label Fabienne Chapot, it was time for a new challenge. Now mother of 2 sons, she was surprised by the fact that children’s shoes were often lacking quality, in terms of design and materials. Moreover, the price didn’t correspond with the quality.

“It is always a challenge to find high-quality children’s shoes. In addition to the fact that high-quality shoes are often very expensive, I was also disappointed by the designs and materials used. Often, I find myself grabbing popular sneaker brands, of which I had a hunch that they were made by children’s hands. I found this difficult to bear to buy for my own children”.

What’s in a name?

After my second son Mees was born, his name raised questions. Why did I give animal names to my children? With my oldest, named Bear, I could make the link. But my eyebrow raised with the name Mees. Apparently, a tit is called Mees in Dutch. Can you already connect the dots? Far-fetched? Maybe, but it did give me an idea. The concept of starting an animal-friendly children’s shoe label made from sustainable materials was born.

“I remember my oldest son wondering what the word leather means. I explained that leather is the skin of an animal and that we use this for bags, shoes and other garments. He shivered and asked if that was really necessary. I was stuck for an answer. Nowadays, we have so many alternatives. So, I started my search for vegan footwear for children. I found this difficult to find”.


Having worked for more than 10 years in the footwear business, she knew the ropes in designing, developing and distributing shoes. Together with a factory from Portugal, they embarked upon this adventure. The assignment was: developing affordable children’s shoes that can take a hit, have velcro instead of laces, made from sustainable materials that are also animal-friendly. Moreover, we also developed shoes made from recycled PET bottles.

It’s cool to be kind!