The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.
-Buechner

Monday, January 4, 2010

These Shoes Were Made For Walkin'...

...oh, and they were made in Africa by Africans using only African materials...ah hem...in Ethiopia by Ethiopians using only Ethiopian materials. (Liberian rubber in 2010.)

Talk about having your cake and eating it too.

I was super pumped to have received these on Christmas Day. (Yep, mine are even purple.) I've talked about Oliberte before and I am just more and more impressed each time I deal with them. I say each time, as the president (yep, Monsieur Le President) contacts me quickly any time I have a question - Tal Dehtiar is just a great guy.

Oliberte is just a great company.

They are green.

They are social justice minded.

They are globally aware, sensitive, and pro-active.

Need proof? Here you go.
  • The morning of the 25th, I open the most beautiful Oliberte shoes ever made. No I am not biased.
  • Low and behold they are likely a smidge too big. Ironic? Nope. I am like the pickiest person on earth. Seriously. The joke at our wedding reception was that I am anal enough that I need to have my socks folded together a certain way. Okay, maybe I've loosened up a little over the past nearly 7 years, but I am still the same old girl.
  • So, I email said President and explain the situation: "Not sure, but think I may need a smaller size."
  • Did I mention I sent this email mid-afternoon on the 25th? In case you've lost track through all my rambling this is Christmas Day, people.
  • Keeping with the 48hr reply policy, Mr Tal emails back before midday on the 27. And, in case you don't have your 2009 calendar in front of you, I am here to tell you this was a Sunday.
  • The long and the short of it is that there is no charge for them to ship me a new pair of shoes, while I keep the old pair to compare the two side-by-side. Seriously.
  • I will then ship back the pair I decide aren't "perfect".
On January 6, Oliberte will be on Dragons' Den. They're up first, I believe. Yes, they'll enjoy several minutes of fame - and skeptical questioning from the dragons (and a special guest). Now, keep in mind that this show was taped in May 2009. I have to say, I watched a preview and dragons, you're missing out. I was disappointed at what I saw not in the product or the company but in the dragons' reactions.

I had to remind myself, however, that they are financially, "worldly" minded. I think they missed a major marketing strategy and getting in on a corner of the market itself, which is this: people are starting to think about and strive to support those in developing countries. I realize this is a blanket statement but it is fashionable now (for lack of a better word) to seek products which have been made by those with less. Call it Global Responsibility. Call it Social Burden. Regardless of how you cut it, I think the Dragons missed it. And it's a shame.

However, Oliberte has gone on (since this May taping) to supply some big names with their shoes. With their comfortable, well made, quality created, one-of-a-kind, cool kicks they are really getting around!

My shoes? My shoes are made as follows:
  • upper leather: from premium Ethiopian cow leather...cows who have lead a long and healthy life
  • inner leather: from premium Ethiopian goat leather...goats who have lead a long and healthy life
  • soles: from the rubber (traditional crepe leather) from Liberian Hevea trees (I believe mine were Ethiopian - as Liberia is now the country of choice, as of 2010)
  • suppliers, staff, contractors, farmers: paid fairly for their work and treated responsibly
This is the first company...these are the first shoes to be made in Africa using 100% African materials.

I would encourage you to check them out.

And, if you need a new pair of shoes I can tell you, these shoes were made for walkin' and that's just what they'll do...

2 comments:

D Dae said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
D Dae said...

Ok totally want a pair of these shoes. Obviously you had an issue with sizing. How do they fit? Do they stretch with wear?