We caught up with our inspiring friends and fellow B Corp Indosole to chat about their burgeoning business and find out how they are trying to change consumer behaviour.
KK: The products we love can become a part of our identity. What are some of the fun stories your customers have shared about their Indos?
I: Over the years we have had many photos come in from customers who have worn their Indos to the bone. They have taken their sandals on backpacking trips to Europe, down the coast of Mexico, and of course scampering around Indonesia. One of our Good Humans, Andy Finch, wore his Indos on a surf mission in northern Russia during the Olympics. And we once received a photo of a bride-to-be with all her bridesmaids wearing different colors of the Ikhanna sandal. That was heart-warming—the idea of someone sharing her penchant for responsible products with her dearest friends and on one of the biggest days of her life.
KK: Why did you choose to become a B Corp and what does being one mean to Indosole?
I: We applied to become a B Corp because we wanted to be part of a community that believes in doing business for the greater good. We aim for transparency and social and environmental accountability. Becoming a B Corp is not easy—we’ve heard that some very big and established businesses have barely managed to pass B Lab review—so this certification means a great deal to us. It pushes us every day to operate responsibly and to be the best we can be.
KK: You make your products partially out of upcycled tires. How big is the problem of tire waste?
IS: Tire waste is a much bigger problem than many people realize. First of all, over 1.5 billion waste tires are discarded each year globally. Some countries manage the disposal while others are not so good about it. We’ve interviewed locals in Indonesia and found that a lot of tires get burned for cheap fuel, which means toxic chemicals are being released into the air. That’s air that we all share.
Tires are also breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitos—think malaria and dengue. Studies have shown that dengue fever is globally on the rise, even in non-tropical countries. It is so important to find solutions for tire waste and not let them pile up, as they take thousands of years to decompose.
KK: Operating in a foreign country can be challenging. How does Indosole maintain a harmonious relationship with the community it works in?
I: First and foremost, you have to respect the local culture. Our staff needs to be able to observe religious holidays and take leave for cultural obligations. Also, we make an effort to learn as much Indonesian as we can, because the friendly banter makes all the difference at the workshop! (Fun fact: in the Indonesian language there is no direct translation for “Sir/Madam” or “Mr./Ms.” You can say “Pak/Bu" (short for "Bapak” and “Ibu"), which translates literally as “mother” and “father.” It’s a really nice thing to be able to refer to your staff the same way you would refer to your family.)
KK: Who are Indosole's biggest inspirations in the worlds of business and style?
I: In business, it would definitely have to be Patagonia. They put out such great product and are leaders when it comes to spreading good ideas. We loved the Black Friday campaign they did where they actually advised their customers to swap clothes instead of buying new ones. We are big fans of their repair program—we agree that customers shouldn’t have to buy something new every time they have a small problem with their product. It’s just not good for the environment. We hope that one day we’ll be able to offer a similar type of program.
As for style, we are fans of Pharell’s eclectic style, and the work he is doing with G-Star RAW to make plastic bottle materials into really stylish clothing. We also love actress Emma Watson for using the red carpet to make a statement about sustainable fashion. She wore a Calvin Klein gown made of recycled materials to the 2016 Met Gala, which got taken apart to be used as separates for other occasions. We thought that was genius, and really sent a message.
KK: Outside of buying Indosole product, which we highly recommend, what actions can normal people take to live a more environmentally and socially conscious existence
I: That’s a great question! This actually ties into the talk that Indosole founder Kyle Parsons gave at TEDxUbud this year. At the end of his talk he gives three easy ways to live more responsibly: 1) Make a commitment to cut out single-use products, 2) Support businesses that provide progressive options, and 3) Be the example. For more on these points, be sure to watch Kyle’s TEDx video above.
KK: What are three books you think every conscious consumer should read?
KK: What else do you want to tell us?
I: We’d like to urge people to get curious about the slow fashion options out there. A good place to start is with the brands that Kyle wore during his TEDx talk, but there are honestly so many more out there and they need your support to keep doing the good work they are doing.
As a customer, you wield so much power! Every purchase you make sends a message to the industry, so if it’s responsible processes and more earth-friendly materials that you want, seek out the brands that are doing this and support them. Show the industry what is important to you.
A big THANK YOU to our friends at Indosole for opening up to us and for being such a great actor in the slow fashion movement. To shop Indosole products and learn more about their amazing company, please visit Indosole.com.