I’ve recently been inspired by The Minimalists podcast, presented by two guys, on how to have more in life with less, and to the value derived from owning things that have a story, and which are cherishable, as opposed to disposable.
Not only can the world’s resources not keep up with our increasing demand for throw-away fashion, many of the world’s demands for natural resources, the most at threat being water, will exceed supply by 2030. Which is why, even though I do shop at high-street stores, I try and keep an eye out for businesses that invest earnestly in social and environmental initiatives, and limit my clothes to those that have a story to tell.
One of those businesses is Soul of Africa, a social enterprise I came in contact with by way of Facebook. Soul of Africa makes shoes in Africa to be sold globally, and my first pair came through the post the other week so I’m so super excited. Although I haven’t had a chance to wear them out due to the surprisingly warm weather this summer, I know I’ll feel really proud to wear them when I do.
The boots I have are the Kembo Woman in dark brown, brought about by a collaboration between Soul of Africa and Vivobarefoot. Made with naturally weathered, African sourced suede, Kembo is a barefoot take on the classic Mocassin boot, allowing for natural movement and casual style. Vivobarefoot a shoe company based in the UK that specialises in creating shoes with a patented Pure Barefoot Technology sole. Driven by a passion for healthy movement in all its forms, Vivobarefoot provides Soul of Africa with soles for the shoes made in Ethiopia, the place where the human foot first walked on the earth.
Doing good, one step at a time
By crafting shoes in Africa, Soul of Africa provides valuable skills and employment opportunities in areas of extreme unemployment. Their shoes are sold internationally, with every pair ensuring a fair wage and 100% of profits helping to support inspirational projects that provide education, skills development, and an empowered future.
In Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, Soul of Africa work closely with the Brave Hearts Foundation. This inspirational organisation creates safety, security and opportunity for vulnerable children, many of whom would otherwise be living on the streets. The charity provides training for guardians, ensures they receive proper nutrition and access to education. What’s more, they run a micro-finance project that helps women to set up small businesses that provide an invaluable income to support their families.
Last year, Soul of Africa met DESTINO Dance company, also based in Addis Ababa, an inspirational group of young people led by Junaid Jemal Sendi and Addisu Demissie. From working on the streets of Addis Ababa to support their families, one as selling tissues, the other shining shoes – they have now become internationally recognised for their talent as contemporary dancers and regularly perform on stages around the world.
It’s often all too easy to forget the people behind the products we own. Lives affected directly and indirectly. I also think that in our efforts to change the world and make it a better place, we forget that change comes from making consistent incremental steps. Being more purposeful about the clothes that I own and supporting global and independent brands that care more about people than profits is just one of the ways I intend to do my part.