As we close out 2016 and look forward to the new year, Onpets would like to thank our community members and wish you all the best for the coming year. We thought it would be fitting to end the year with an interview with Laura Viveros, Co-Founder of Soles for Change, a company founded on the principles of helping others through the use of natural materials, all in an animal-friendly way.
If you have a favorite animal-friendly or vegan clothing line, shoe, accessory, home good or other product you think the Onpets community would like to know about, tell us about it and we’ll put together a round-up of your favorites.
Here is what Laura had to say about Soles for Change:
- What is Soles for Change?
Soles for Change is an on-going project with a purpose, where the key role is played by the artisans behind our products: Beautiful, colorful, comfortable, environmentally friendly, hand-made espadrilles.
- Why did you establish Soles for Change?
My husband and I are always looking at opportunities to give-back to less fortunate people, especially in our beloved Colombia. With Soles for Change, we not only saw a chance to embark on an entrepreneurial journey, but also saw a great opportunity to sustainably give back to a community of humble artisans. Both were the fundamental reason(s) behind our brand and our project.
- What was the hardest part of starting your business?
Every single step in the process of our journey is a challenge in and of itself, but as entrepreneurs with a cause and passion, every single challenge is enjoyed and we learned from it. If I have to list a couple challenges, I’d say the logistics around the delivery from Colombia to the US and having to learn all the rules and regulations to run a business from Miami and NY.
- Why are your shoes all made from plant-based materials?
Hand crafting a product from natural materials is not only good for the environment but it is a part of our cultural roots and our espadrilles are no exception. Fique, a natural tree fiber, is indeed one of the materials that plays a leading role when producing our sandals, as it is used as the insole base in all of our models. Figue itself has health benefits, including stimulation of your circulation, so you can walk more comfortably for longer periods of time when wearing our shoes. On the practical side, all our shoes are machine-washable and can be dried in your drier and they come out like new!
- Does Soles for Change have any particular animal-welfare message?
Yes – we love our companion animals!! Since our shoes are environmentally friendly, that ultimately benefits not only our companion animals and us but our natural surroundings in general. In addition, we don’t use any animal products in making the shoes so they are suitable for vegans.
- What is the background of the two founders?
I (Laura) have a Masters in Finance from Boston University and I work as an Investment Counselor for a well-known banking organization. Juan has a Masters in Engineering Management and he works as a Project Director for transportation projects with a tolling integrator organization.
- Is Soles for Change an animal-friendly work place?
Of course it is!
- Why is Soles for Change different from other shoe companies?
We want the hands of the people making our product to be part of our project and feel part of a family – family that will grow with them and for them. For us, that’s what makes Soles for Change different.
- Where are your shoes made and by whom?
Our shoes are made in Santander, Colombia by a group of very skillful artisans, both senior and single mothers.
- How do you come up with your shoe design ideas?
They are indeed really beautiful, aren’t they?!? Well, the initial inspiration came from our skillful artisans. In fact, it was one of the many attributes that captured our attention and drove us to create our business. New models are now a combination of ideas between them and us, an experience that so far has been really rewarding for us!
- Where can one buy your shoes?
At this time, shoes can be purchased on our website www.solesforchange.com.
- Does any portion of the proceeds go to charitable causes and, if so, which ones?
The purpose of Soles for Change is to help the artisans and single mothers behind our product. Just by purchasing them, we are automatically helping them to remain busy. But, we want to push ourselves and give back more by helping them fulfill their dreams while being active part of not only a project, but a family, the Soles for Change family. We donate 25% of our sales proceeds back to the artisans who make the shoes and in September 2016 we had our very first give-back event. For this one, we asked our artisans which place they’d like to travel to. The result was a trip to some charming and beautiful colonial towns in Boyaca, Colombia. They absolutely loved it and for us, the experience was just simply beyond words. That experience is now fueling our passion and willingness to continue nurturing our Soles for Change family.
- What else would you like the Onpets community to know about Soles for Change?
We want the Onpets community to know that behind our brand there’s a community of artisans producing an amazing product and that every single buyer is contributing to a great cause. As we like to say it, one pair, many wishes.
©Onpets, LLC 2016. All rights reserved.