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I’m sitting in an internet cafe watching people stroll along the Mediterranean on Malta. Beach time is getting close, I can feel it – there have been people sunbathing on the rocks since 10AM this morning but I’ve been waiting all year for my date with the sun and salt water.

I’m accompanied by my mother – this is our third summer trip together – but on today’s beach date i’ve also brought along a new partner which I’ve been hanging onto for the past few months. My natural rubber Olli World flip flops.

Sisters Heather and Holly have created a summer staple that doesn’t kill the planet or come at the cost of young lives in some obscure country that is almost always out of sight and out of mind. I’ve been wearing these flip flops throughout my beach adventures in Europe for the month of July and they’re insanely comfortable, light, and durable – elusive qualities when it comes to the ubiquitous flip flop. With an Indiegogo campaign happening at the moment, now is the perfect time to discover this great new sustainable brand AND give the environment a hand while you’re at it. There is still so much of summer left, and these flip flops can handle pretty much any adventure you can throw at them – tested by yours truly on many a rocky beach!

 

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To discover more about this brand and it’s history, I asked one of the co-founders, Heather Shuster, some questions and loved her thoughtful, straightforward answers. Definitely a source of environmental girlboss inspiration. Give them a follow on Insta at @olli.world or show them some love on facebook here.

And finally, totally nerd out with my interview below …

1 – Your story is so cool – I often find the best ideas are generated because something is missing and we have a solution; did you know about natural before you started on your journey? Or was that something you discovered while looking or a more sustainable material for flip flops?

Thanks! Yes. No one’s ever asked me that before. Actually, it was a complete accident. The first time I read about natural rubber was in 2012. I was in the Philippines and at the hotel, someone had left behind two books–Fifty Shades of Grey and Deep Jungle. Even with no internet, no smartphone, nothing else to read, and no one to talk to, I ditched Fifty Shades of Grey at the next hotel because the writing was so atrocious. The only alternative was the jungle book, which actually turned out to be very informative and well-written. So I ended up reading about jungle exploration and the commoditization of jungle plants, and one of the topics covered hevea brasiliensis–rubber trees. Little did I realize that I would actually be doing my own jungle exploration for rubber trees a few years later. (Did you know that bananas are mutant seedless fruits? Lol. I’m full of random information now.)

Later, in 2014 I forgot my flip flops while visiting the beach (smart packer I am) and went to buy another pair, which I thought would have been easy. Everything looked like it was made from plastic, and it was so expensive. I thought I would buy something else that was more environmentally-friendly but turned up with a lot of nothing. Then I found a couple of companies in Europe making flip flops from natural rubber and I wondered why I hadn’t seen it before.

2 – What has been the biggest challenge so far with Olli?
In the beginning I was having a difficult time finding a manufacturer willing to process natural rubber into flip flops. I thought it was a raw materials problem, so I traveled to southeast Asia to find rubber plantations. I was very excited the first time I visited one because I thought I was finally making progress. But then after witnessing the conditions there–people with no protective equipment wading in vats of murky water, toxic fumes, an awfully young-looking workforce, and housing without electricity or running water. I had to rethink my whole plan. I wanted to create something that was environmentally better, but not at the expense of others. And that’s what lead me to get involved with Fair Rubber.
3 – What has been your favourite/most rewarding moments so far with Olli?
Olli would not have been a reality without the help of others. We’re so grateful for all of the help and advice we’ve been given along the way. It’s also been a pleasure to reconnect with old friends.
4 – Why is thinking about our earth important to you and Olli? 
I never thought I would be the kind of person to promote those sorts of things. But after having lived in Asia for 8 years–and seeing the true cost of our buying habits, you gain a different perspective on the environment. I loved my life there, but I now realize life is fragile. I always thought that if I founded a company I would take time to understand where it all came from and not leave anything to chance. It was important that I could explain our product and stand by our choices.
5 – Where do you see your company going in 5, 10 years? 

Hmm… good question. In 5 years our will have expanded beyond US borders. In 10 years, we’ll be an established name.

6 – What is one thing everybody can do TODAY to be more conscious and gentle on the environment? 
We’re living in unprecedented times. You can directly engage with your favorite brands on social media and it won’t cost a thing.

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I’m so enjoying being introduced to new, environmentally friendly brands on the regular – huge thanks to Heather and Holly for the opportunity to try their innovative and extremely functional product, and for offering up some insight into being a conscious entrepreneur!
For more info on Olli World and their Indiegogo Campaign, click HERE!
As always, thanks for reading, XO
A





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