I get asked lots of questions at Brave Soles. I get it. Everyone is curious to see how an idea takes on shape and grows.
I also started to notice that there were common questions that kept coming up. Here are 10 of my favorite questions from 2018.
Some are personal, some are about our brand and some inspired blog posts here on our Brave Soles' blog.
1. Were you always interested in sustainable fashion?
I’ve always loved fashion! But my journey towards sustainable fashion wasn’t always straight forward. For a long time, my love for fashion was at odds with my conscious. It all came to a head when I bought a pair of chunky leather boots. After a day in my closet, there was a noticeable chemical smell. I knew something wasn’t right. This got me thinking about the global supply chain and the impact fast, cheap fashion was having on our planet.
I’ve worked with landfill workers in different parts of the world. I’ve seen the effects of working in trash dumps. Sitting down one day with a pen and paper, I began to list out what were some ways that I could help divert useable items from ending up in landfills.
This simple little time investment changed how I perceived my own life choices and possibilities.
2. How did you launch Brave Soles?
I launched Brave Soles in 2017 with $250. Really I did! The money came from someone who would have never expected that I was going to start a conscious fashion brand.
With that small amount of money, I had several shoes designed and have my friends wear to test them and give me feedback.
When Brave Soles launched via a social media post we sold 30+ pairs that the first day. That was a year and a half ago! Our birthday was on June 7. We can’t wait to see what the next year brings.
3. Where does your inspiration come from?
We want to make shoes that work for your lifestyle. So, we ask lots of questions of our team, of our customers and of ourselves.
This helps us decide what our next style will be.
4. When you're not working what is your favorite thing to do?
One of my favourite things to do is to read books! (Well, ok, great dinner parties are actually first, but books give me way more to talk about at those dinner parties!)
I read anywhere and everywhere. I recently shared 10 must-read books on our blog. Trevor Noah's memoir was a favourite this past year, as was "Educated", by Tara Westover. Dr. Joe Dispenza's book, "Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself" has changed me forever.
5. What’s the difference between recycling and upcycling?
We get asked why we always use the term upcycle, rather than recycle.
Recycling is the process of changing items considered to be waste into new products.
Upcycling is a lot like recycling. It's the process of converting old or discarded materials into something useful and often beautiful. Upcycling gives an item a new purpose without compromising its essence.
When you recycle, you are often making a new product of lower quality. With upcycling, we are simply making new beautiful high-quality products.
6. How did you choose the name ‘Brave Soles’?
I wanted a name that inspires people to make better choices.
One day after hosting a group of volunteers at a garbage dump in the Dominican, I was driving home and thinking about the people I had just spent time with - both the volunteers and the local workers at the landfill. I was thinking about what I could do to help people make better choices for themselves and our earth. I realized it takes bravery to make those choices. The more I thought about it the more I knew brave had to part of our brand and our name.
7. What is your favourite Brave Soles style?
There are so many styles that I love. It’s really hard to choose just one. The Avarca is one of our most inspiring shoes. They have a simple beautiful style that represents creativity and empowerment.
And who can resist the classic flip-flop? They might be one of the oldest styles of shoes in the world. We love them and they are a big part of our life in the D.R.
8. Where does Brave Soles source materials?
The soles are our shoes are made from upcycled rubber tires found in garbage dumps and ditches in the Dominican. Using tires for soles we help reduce the impact of tossing out tires in dumps to be left for centuries.
Our leather comes from a variety of sources. Some of it is upcycled from plane seats, some of it is the offcuts from custom furniture shops, and the rest of comes to us from a gold-certified tannery in the Dominican Republic that has clearly laid out environmental and labour policies that we can fully get behind.
9. What is Brave Soles' total impact on the environment and Greenhouse Gas Emissions?
We share are an environmental impact with you. In the past year and half, we’ve upcycled over 700 large truck tires, kept 87 cars off the road for a day, and saved 117,240 hours of light bulb energy. We are so proud of this number. But we know we will do even more in 2019.
10. How is Brave Soles' expanding in 2019?
In 2019, our production is shifting. First of all, we have a new shop (that we would love you to come and visit!) where all of our tire soles are crafted by hand from start to finish. We are incredibly proud of our team and the work they are doing.
We are also moving to use multiple suppliers and artisans from within the country of the Dominican Republic for our shoe uppers and bags. All of our suppliers are highly regulated by us and outside agencies and we know each of them personally and, in some instances, we consider them to be mentors and guides for us along the way.
We will also be seeking to become fully certified with globally recognized initiatives that independently monitor everything from our employment standards to environmental footprint.
Thanks for believing in us and for being willing to think differently. You make us love what we do each and every day.