We are a social enterprise, that upcycles washed up flip-flops found along the beaches and waterways in Kenya. Inspired by the toys children were making out of the flip-flop debris, Julie Church, the Ocean Sole Founder, encouraged their mothers to collect, wash, and cut the discarded flip-flops into colourful products to sell at local Kenyan Markets as another means of income for their families.
Our social enterprise positively impacts over a 1,000 Kenyans through the collection of flip-flops and direct employment. We provide steady income to nearly 100 low-income Kenyans in our company. We recycled over half a million flip-flops in 2017 and aim to recycle a million this year. We contribute over 10-15% of our revenue to beach cleanups, vocational and educational programmes as well as conservation efforts.
We use our social enterprise to pay bonuses to employees, invest in a welfare programme that allows a zero return in funds to all employees to help facilitate payments for educating their children, buying land and other means. Our actions must make a difference to the plight of our oceans and our ethos is to give back what we earn to change the lives of many – through employment, education, and meals.
We turn flip-flops into art and functional products and in turn raise visual awareness of the problem at hand. By creating these sculptures, we are creating employment for a country that has over 40% unemployment rate but we are also sending a message about how we can help our planet, our oceans and people, through creating beautiful art that portray an important message about the state of our oceans.
Our business is all about the community. We support men, women, youth (18 to 35), fisherman and other entrepreneurs that are all part of our eco-system. Whether picking up flip-flops that we pay for or using our waste for up-cycled products such as mattresses, our community engagement has been strong and is at the core of our business and hearts.
Kg of flip-flop waste collected a year
Flip-flops recycled this year
Most people think of flip-flops as casual beachwear. Cute, sexy, colorful, decorated and fashionable. In fact, flip-flops for over 3 BILLION people are the only pair of “shoes” they own. These flip-flops get worn for about a year and then after many repairs, are discarded, All of these flip-flops will ultimately end up in our Earth’s waterways, landfills and oceans.
In Kenya, for example, one factory can produce over 100,000 pairs of cheap flip-flops a day – made from toxic material and created using cheap labour and fossil fuels. This one company alone produces 3.65 MILLION flip-flops annually.
At Ocean Sole we have transformed over 750,000 discarded flip-flops this year and up-cycled them into unique and wonderful art.
We hope it brings attention to this problem globally.
Please support us on this worthy mission by viewing the art we create and hopefully you will find something that resonates with your passion and you too, can become a sole mate.
Ocean Sole Employees
Meet The Family
Maurine Atieno Oyoo
Chief Sole Mate
Take a tour of our workshop with Jonathan, one of our top artists.