Kai Stober Paul on How To Build a Sustainable Social Enterprise
In one of our most honest conversations yet, Kai Stober Paul, Vice President of Indosole, recounts how he and Indosole founder, Kyle Parsons built one of the most unique footwear brands in existence. For the past 5 years, they have worked to create a social business with the mission to remove all disposed tires from circulation.
This is his story of how Kai went from high-rise builder in San Francisco to recycled shoe mogul. An economic freeze helped him realize that he literally reached the pinnacle of his industry and needed to do something different – which took him back to Indonesia – his birthplace and childhood home.
He later joined the fledgling Indosole team as a side hustle while working for a fast-growing sports equipment company back in California. Bankruptcy struck and Kai was pushed into working full time for Indosole.
In this interview, Kai shares how he and his partner struggled to change a waste material into a viable and functional component of a great-looking, comfortable shoe. It’s not just about having tires pile up in a landfill, it’s about stopping them from being burned for fuel which turns them into toxic smoke that gets released into the atmosphere.
Kai’s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kai’s Phone number (yes, you can call him!): +62 (0)81350054588
Key Learnings From This Episode:
- How much money it actually takes to create a footwear company
- How sometimes fate dictates your career path
- Why used tires need to be up-cycled and removed from circulation
- How two dudes learned how to design women’s footwear
- What is a B-Corp and why it’s changing the way we do business
- Why startup financials are everything and nothing
Links And Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
- Bali Internships
- Jeff Yokayama of Yokishop
- Jeff Curleigh (JC) of Levis – EVP, Levi Strauss & CO, President of the Levis Brand
Born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, Kai is the Vice President of Indosole. He’s passionate about improving manufacturing processes, environmental issues, and bettering the land and people of Indonesia. His goal is to improve and learn everyday, both in himself and the product that he produces. Kai believes that design and designers are the path to a better future.
Indosole was born in 2009 and has utilized 40,000 tires to date. Their first mission is to use one million tires as soles for footwear, and while doing so advocating better design by supporting like-minded people and companies. They utilize waste tires that would otherwise be burned or discarded in landfills and illegal dumping sites that collect rain water and become breeding grounds for malaria and dengue fever infected mosquitos. They intercept this downward spiral by turning these tires into soles for footwear.
Their newest collection, “Elements” is launching in March 2016.
Thanks for Listening!
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Thanks again to Kai for sharing his story. Until next week, go forth and get it done!