Tires suck. Well ok, having them on your car or motorcycle is pretty useful but once they’re used up it’s a whole other story. In the US about 300 million tires are scrapped or dumped every year. Although recycling and reusing is gaining in popularity (thanks Pinterest!), 25% of the tires still end up in landfills.
Tires that are burned release a ton of toxins into the air which can become poisonous if breathed excessively or on a daily habit. Disposed tires are also a great breeding ground for mosquitoes (which often carry some of the world's worst known diseases).
The problem becomes worst in Bali where environmental standards are lower than they should be. Thankfully, several companies are attacking the problem and giving a second life to used tires. One of those companies is Indosole. Indosole transforms used motorcycle tires found in landfills across Bali into beautiful shoes and sandals.
I recently had the chance to ask Kyle and Kai, the founders, a few questions...
A podcast interview from Life Athletics has Kai talking about his background in Construction Management. What's your background Kyle?
Kyle: I was a shoe sales rep prior to starting Indosole. In college I actually worked the night shift at a recycling facility. Those experiences along with what I saw during multiple surf trips to Indonesia have led me to where I am now.
How did you guys meet?
Kai: We met at a trade show where we were both selling. We had back-to-back booths so we were forced to interact. [Laughs]
Kyle: I was showing Indosole to the retail market for the first time, and Kai told me his story of growing up in Indonesia and how Indosole immediately resonated with him.
Kai: We became friends and then business partners.
In your journey to reduce waste in landfills, you guys decided to repurpose tires to create shoes and sandals. Were any other products considered?
Kai: We actually do have other products – bags that are lined with repurposed rice sacks. This prevents the sacks from ending up in landfills and makes the inside of our bags waterproof.
How many tires have you repurposed since the beginning of Indosole?
Kyle: We’re at about 31,500 right now. Our goal is to repurpose 1 million tires.
What is your favorite item in the Indosole collection?
Kai: The Kota High Top because it’s a super comfortable shoe that fits my style.
Kyle: The Double 6 sandal because it’s comfortable, durable, and basically a high-quality product that puts us on the map. On top of that, we’ve achieved this by utilizing repurposed materials.
You guys have an awesome concept and a great, innovative idea to help change the world. To me, that’s inspiring. Can you name one person and/or organization that are inspirational for Indosole?
Kai: For me, it would be Curtis Lowe at Project Clean Uluwatu. PCU is a program in Bali that exists to create a waste management system for a place that desperately needs it.
Kyle: 5 Gyres for helping tackle the plastic problem in our oceans, specifically the plastic that collects in the ocean’s five gyres.
Who was the first person Indosole ever sold a pair of sandals to?
Kai: We don’t actually remember, but it might have been Justin Curzi who is still supporting us to this day.
Kyle: The brand started in the streets of San Francisco at urban craft markets. We tapped into the locals at the beginning.
What is your proudest accomplishment as a brand?
Kai: Being alive! Haha. Being alive and progressing… because it’s a hard world out there. But in all seriousness, we’re proud to have products that we believe can compete with anything out there. It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to this point.
Kyle: We are also proud to have created an environmental mission, manufacturing process, and brand identity that has never really been done before.
What are you views on the current fashion Industry?
Kai: It’s awesome, but there are a lot of issues. If more people had the ability to source more responsibly, the world would be that much better for it. We can all produce responsibly while still making incredibly rad things.
Kyle: It’s our goal to join forces with other innovators in our industry and continue to evolve this movement and show people that eco brands can actually be cool while doing good.
Where is the best place to wear a pair of Indosole?
Kyle: Anywhere, really. We’ve focused on creating a range that can complement any setting… well, except maybe the snow.
If some of my readers are heading to Bali, what destination should be on their bucketlist?
Kai: The Uluwatu area for the waves, good beaches, and epic sunsets.
Your brand excluded, what is your favorite apparel brand and why?
Kai: Mowgli Surf because they’re creative, fun, and original with their designs.
Kyle: Patagonia for their continued leadership with responsibly made products.
Thank you so so much for your time. Where can people learn more about Indosole?
You can check us out at:
Any parting words?
Kyle: Inspire and be inspired.
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