It was around this time, three years ago, that I made what many consider a questionable decision for a 40-year-old man with two children. I quit my job to start a new brand of shoes. And not just a shoe brand, but a brand that would emphasize more environmentally friendly manufacturing – which many did not. Pfff...not much, right? At the same time, my wife and I decided to leave Boulder, CO (USA) and bring our family back to our native France. We wanted our daughters to experience life in our home country. When I think about it sometimes, I often ask myself: “BUT WHAT MADE US DO THIS?! »
I never thought it was going to be easy, but I never imagined it was going to be so hard. It's not meant to be a sad story, but I just don't want to embellish the truth either. If we had chosen to make ordinary shoes, much like everyone else, no problem. We would have started production two years ago, and I would have a lot less gray hair. But pushing for change, insisting on recycled materials, has led to a lot of closed doors, constant starting over, sleepless nights, and emergency trips halfway around the world.
But every time I considered throwing in the towel, I was reminded of the big dream I had for SAOLA from the very beginning: to make a difference. I had to do more to help protect our planet, for the well-being of my daughters. Working with 1% for the Planet to select the environmental projects we will support was the boost I needed to overcome production frustrations. And when Debbie Sherman, founder of Save the Turtles, told me how she single-handedly saved turtles from poachers on the beaches of Costa Rica, it humbly reminded me of the courage it takes when you fight for what we know is right.
And today here we are! I know that we will continue to face challenges, but I also know that we are capable of overcoming them. The support and positive responses we have received over the past two years tell me that we are on the right track. Thank you to everyone who supported us along the way - our family, friends, kickstarter community and the SAOLA team who helped bring this dream to life.
Forward and always higher!
-Guillaume Linossier, Founder, SAOLA Shoes