Soles For Life
Kyle Parsons during TEDx Ubud.
Kyle Parsons during TEDx Ubud.
Shoes have always been his cup of tea. Growing up, his love for footwear grew in line with his willingness to save the environment. Through Indosole, a footwear brand with soles made of used tires, he aims to decrease tire waste and help preserve the environment. Bali & Beyond (BB) was lucky enough to spend some time with Kyle Parsons (KP), the man behind this eco-conscious shoe business.
BB: Hi Kyle! Can you describe Indosole in two words?
KP: Innovative and resourceful.
BB: What was the first thing that popped in your mind when deciding to create Indosole?
KP: It was like a scene from the movie “Indiana Jones”. A vision of an action-packed Bali adventure with obstacles to overcome, namely the biggest challenges of my life, with a sweet reward and sense of achievement at the end.
BB: Why did you choose footwear as your pilot project?
KP: In many ways, footwear chose me. Growing up I was always looking at people’s shoes and noticing trends. I could name what kind of shoes my classmates were wearing or describe the most popular styles on the street. I began my career in the shoes industry at New Balance, where I was able to see how a successful shoe company operated from the inside. Then life led me to learn surfi ng, where I gained a deeper appreciation for a good pair of flip-flops to wear from the beach to town. I then got a job in a surf shop and spent my days sizing up customers’ feet and choosing the right footwear for them.
In 2004 I was walking down the street in Seminyak when the thong of my Reef sandal pulled out and I was left barefoot on the sidewalk. So began my quest for another pair of sandals, something unique and representative of the natural, tropical feel of Bali. I envisioned a natural weave made out of grass or leaves. When I found the sandals I was looking for, I turned them over and discovered the soles were made of motorbike tires. I had never seen anything like it before. Out of the boutique window, hundreds of motorbikes whizzing by and I realized that there is a pollution problem in Indonesia. If you look closely, there is actually a graceful synergy between rolling tires and walking feet. Both are the symbols of movement, adventure and travel seamlessly. Right then and there, I could see something so clearly that hadn’t been discovered yet, so I had to create it.
BB: What is the hardest challenge for Indosole?
KP: Creating the awareness of a pollution problem that is worldwide and growing every day. If you don’t know the problem, you don’t know the part you can play in the solution. Right now, Indosole is in a small but growing pool of conscious consumer product companies. Together we are challenged to raise awareness and effectively communicate these problems in a way that actually motivates sustainable action and creates a positive change. Pollution is a “we” problem, yet many people aren’t concerned with the issue because it seems too far removed from their own lives or too overwhelming to approach. Offering a functional product that represents the consumer’s contribution in solving the problem is amazing because it humanizes the issue and serves as a positive reminder of how we can affect change by making small shifts in our habits and behaviors. The evolution of Indosole has been challenging. Pioneering a whole new category is really difficult but insanely rewarding. It’s really important to build an amazing team. I am so proud of our team’s hard work and dedication for the last seven years.
BB: Where do you see Indosole in 10 years?
KP: I see Indosole as a worldwide brand that provides education through products. I believe we have the opportunity to become a pillar of conscious consumerism, an example of what is possible. Not by the size of the company or monetary value but for what we stand for in a world that is in a process of reestablishing consumer behavior. Indosole’s mission is to become the most “wellrounded” company it can be and this will happen by following a code of ethics that we truly believe in.
BB: What’s your personal favorite Indosole product?
KP: Our Green Grass Mat sandals are my favorite because they are the original “Indos” and feel amazing under my feet. They are tightly woven with real grass grown in the rice fields of Bali and with a green vegan suede strap. The Grass Mat is the ultimate leisure sandal for a man’s daily adventures.
BB: Lastly, what’s your message for people who want to help improve the environment?
KP: If you are called by a problem that desperately needs solving, honor that feeling and go towards the solution. Find your angle to make that difference and don’t worry too much whether it will work out or not. If you are completely authentic and aligned in your actions and beliefs, the universe will support you along the way. Help always comes from unexpected places.
By Suhartina Sindukusumo
Magazine issue > Profile&Potrait