Laura Viveros and her husband Juan Carlos have always considered themselves lucky. And during a visit to Colombia in 2015, they realized they could share that luck and help change lives. They were inspired to start “Soles for Change,” a company that sells handmade espadrilles in the United States, after meeting local artisans who made them in the Bogota department of Santander.
“During a Christmas trip to Colombia, we visited Santander,” Laura explained. “During a stop in the small town of Curiti, I fell in love with the people, the scenery and the food there. It is truly one of the most amazing places I have ever seen. As my family and I greeted proud locals selling their handmade wares, my partners and I knew we had to share their work with the world. This is the moment that ‘Soles for Change’ was born.
We thought it was the perfect way to help others, by helping to spread the word about their products while making their business more sustainable. All they needed is a chance and we believe that with ‘Soles For Change’ we are doing that. We are helping improve their quality of life by embracing and promoting what they do best.”
The popular espadrilles are colorful and made of fique, a biodegradable and durable natural fiber that grows in the leaves of the fique tree. Not only are they earth friendly, but they stimulate the sole of the foot and naturally improves blood circulation by activating the nervous system of the body.
Currently the passion project benefits Colombian artisans, including single mothers. As Laura looks towards the future, she hopes to expand to help single mothers all over the world. It may seem like a huge task to take on, but thankfully “Soles For Change” is inspiring people globally.
“We have had thousands of emails from people just like us who want to make a difference in their countries with a program similar to ours. That is our whole purpose. For that to happen, we’ll need to consolidate our brand better. We want to finish establishing our brand in the international markets and start selling not only online but also in departments stores and eventually, have our own ‘Soles For Change’ store.”
She added, “With a proven business model and hard work we will replicate what we did in Colombia with a different country. We are always looking for people willing to put in the time to make things happen. Who wants to help?”
For those of you interested in helping Laura and her partners’ dreams come true, there are many ways you can help. You can purchase espadrilles from their website via this link, spread the word to your friends and family or contribute to their Kickstarter campaign that will allow them to accomplish many things.
“Right now, we have a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for new machines that will allow them to work faster and more efficient. The funds are also going to be help improve their working conditions. We also want to further educate them in the art of shoemaking by learning new techniques, how to use new fabriques. Simply, they’d learn new ways of doing what they do best without leaving their craftsmanship roots.”