First Steps With Natural Rubber: Olli World Flip Flops
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!
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.
Hmm… good question. In 5 years our will have expanded beyond US borders. In 10 years, we’ll be an established name.