It was around this time three years ago that I made what many would consider a questionable decision for a 40-year-old father of two. I left my job to start a footwear brand. And not just any footwear brand, but one that would focus on eco-friendlier manufacturing – something that wasn’t being done by many. Pshh…no big deal, right? At the same time, my wife and I also decided to leave Boulder, CO (USA) and move our family back to our native France. We wanted our young daughters to experience life in our home country. In hindsight I often ask myself, ‘WHAT THE HELL WERE WE THINKING??’
I never thought it was going to be easy, but I never imagined it would’ve been this hard. This isn’t meant to be a sob story – I just don’t want to sugarcoat the truth. If we were just trying to make plain ‘ol shoes, like every other pair out there, no problem. We would’ve launched two years ago and I would have far less grey hairs. Insisting on recycled materials and pushing for changes in the status quo have lead to a lot of doors closing, starting over, sleepless nights, and emergency trips half-way around the globe.
But any time I’ve considered throwing in the towel, I’ve reminded myself of the big picture dream I had for SAOLA from the very beginning: to make an impact. I had to do more to help protect our planet for the well-being of our daughters. Working with 1% for the Planet to select the environmental projects we’ll be giving back to has been the energy boost I’ve needed to get through production frustrations. And when Debbie Sherman, founder of Save the Turtles, shared her story with me about how she single-handedly rescued turtles from poachers on Costa Rican beaches, I was humbly reminded of the courage that it takes to fight for what you know is right.
So here we are! Officially live. I know we will continue to face challenges, but I also know what we’re capable of achieving. The support and positive responses we’ve received over the last couple years tells me we’re on the right track. Thanks to everyone who’s supported us along the way – our family, friends, kickstarter community, and the SAOLA team that has helped bring this dream to life.
Onward and upward!
-Guillaume Linossier, Founder, Saola Shoes