The choices we make should be a reflection of what we value.
In Brave Soles we value people, our planet and the legacy we are leaving long after we are one. The false perception that we deserve to get everything cheaper and faster has a cost that we can no longer afford to pay as a global community.
In the end, it's the most vulnerable people and environments who pays the highest price for it all. There are much more inspiring stories to live and tell than the race to the bottom. We want to tell those stories to ourselves and the world.
Our story has been 12 years in the making. As the founder of an international youth humanitarian organization, Christal (co-founder and CEO) had been working and learning from a local community of garbage dump workers since 2005 on the north coast of Dominican Republic.
Every day she worked at that garbage dump was an adventure in laughter, connection, and the hard truths about our shared humanity. There were, however, also a heartbreaking amount of tires. They were a breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying deadly diseases and they were a toxic nightmare.
In 2010, an unexpected turn of events in Christal’s journey left her facing the fact that she was going to have to rebuild her life between two countries. She was now a single parent who was torn between Canada where her career was based and Dominican Republic where her adopted daughter couldn’t leave. Like many single parents around the world, she figured out a way to make it work.
But all the time, the question was still there: “What could be done with all the tires that are dumped everywhere?”
In early 2017, the idea struck for the first time. Why not use tires for soles on beautiful hand made shoes - and create a way to help the most vulnerable people in the process?
The ability to ask a different question has led us on this journey that continues to expand and grow. It's not just our story, nor is it a tire's story. This is the story of a lot of people like you: people who know they want to be proud of what the do and what they wear. People like us know that we can do better. We also know we can look great while doing it!
As our founder and chief optimist, Christal admits that her life has been stranger than fiction. Originally from a farm in Saskatchewan, Canada, she now calls both Toronto and Cabarete, D.R. home. From starting a global charity in 2000 to living between two countries since 2010 because of an international immigration situation gone sideways, she has kind of done it all. Christal is a writer, a professional speaker and an unshakeable believer in social change. She loves great shoes, red wine, dark chocolate, her daughter Widlene and her man, Augusto - not necessarily in that order.
Flo, as we like to call her, is the mastermind behind our global logistics. Flo has an extensive background in online retail. Not only is she an avid online shopper (!) but she has worked in internet startups for much of her career.
Originally from Montreal, Quebec, she now lives in the Dominican Republic on a farm with her husband Tommy and Ljana, the two loves of her life. She also loves to wake up and greet the day saying hi to her chickens, her donkey and her various critters around her property.
Flo loves wine and pasta, but hates the letter "H" because, as a French Canadian, its her nemesis.
Kaitlin is originally from Brooks, Alberta. As the head of our Sales department, Kaitlin is the friendly face that supports our vendors, our house party hosts and our indie sales team.
Kaitlin has been a professional dance teacher for many years and continues to teach in her spare time. As a western Canadian, she believes in the term "supper" over "dinner", in the practical power of a ponytail bun and that we should all just relax and enjoy life a little bit more.
Proudly hails frcaom Toronto, Canada. Her passion for justice has taken on many forms during her years practising law.
She has worked with a rape crisis centre, has been a mentor for young women in global leadership, and has volunteered as a board member for Live Different in earlier years.
Annette’s passion for helping people comes from a rich life history of social change. She has worked with Christal in Thailand and Canada since 2013.