July 27, 2012

Every Sandal Has a Story

Meet Liz.

Liz was one of the other Innovator Speakers this past week at the What If Conference in Portland.

And she pretty much rocked my face off.

Liz was there to represent innovations in social entrepreneurship. This idea that with our businesses….we can change the world.

And that is, in every sense of the word, exactly what Liz is doing with her company Sseko Designs. It started with an impromptu trip to Africa right after she graduated college. Where she lived and worked among the Ugandan people. And saw first hand the extreme poverty that exists there. The hierarchy among men & women that usually means the only jobs left available to these women is the “job” of selling their bodies. At about the equivalent of twenty five cents a time. But given the choice between this and not eating, they chose to work. And that even though half of the best & brightest students in all of Uganda are women, usually none of them were able to go on to University for the simple fact that they couldn’t get real work to raise the money. And so the cycle continued. As mothers watched their daughters being sold as well.

Enter Liz and an idea. A quirky pair of sandals she had made up one day when she was bored in college.

A pretty much killer pair of sandals that could change the world.

From Liz:

By creating an environment of dignity, honor, creativity and dedication, Sseko Designs provides the opportunity for women in East Africa to end the cycle of poverty and create a more equitable society.

We believe that every woman has a dream. When she is given the opportunity to pursue those dreams, we are collectively walking towards a brighter and more just and beautiful world.

We believe that our stuff has a story and that every dollar you spend is a vote for the way you think the world should work.

Every sandal has a story.

Now, this is where we come in. All of us. This model only works if people buy the sandals. And they are. Around 10,000 pairs have been sold this year so far. That’s pretty good.

But What If it was 100,000 pairs instead?

How many more lives could be changed then? And how far would the ripple effect from that go?

I don’t know about you guys, but when I see these shoes I feel like every woman I know should have a pair. Every bride, every friend, every family member. And maybe it’s just me and how we’re constantly thinking about weddings, but I kind of feel like they should be THE must have bridesmaid shoe this year, no? Because how many could we sell then?

And that’s where you guys come in.

Because I know a LOT of brides. But together, we know so many more.

And I know a LOT of women. But together, we know so many more.

And together, maybe we could start a movement. A movement of women (and the men who love women!) using their spending power to change the lives of other women.

And maybe, just maybe, change the world in the process.

And I mean, let’s face it… you get a cute pair of shoes in the process? I’d call that a Win-Win.

What If….every single person reading this got up off their butts, clicked off this page and bought a pair?

What If….every single person once they were over there on the site, bought a few extra pairs for the women they love too?

What If….every photographer reading this blogged about Sseko sandals and encouraged their brides to give them to their bridesmaids too?

What If….together, we made these the must have shoes of the year? Because buy a pair, give a pair is really good. But buy a pair, give someone a chance at a future is even better.

What If….we read this and didn’t close the computer before we DID something about it?

And What If….we sold at least 100 pairs before the day is out? I think we can do it. No, scratch that. I KNOW we can. Let’s just see how powerful we are together. If you’re down to play, leave us a note in the comment box below of how many sandals you bought. I’m going to start by buying 3 pairs. Chime back in if you find out one of your friends bought some because you tweeted or facebooked about it. Let’s keep a running tally. And come Monday, let’s see if we can have made some stuff happen.

I dare you to move.

Happy Friday y’all!

  1. Tiffany Farley

    AHHH! I LOVE this! And I am GOING to Uganda next summer! love love love.

  2. Laura

    I absolutely love this!!! Buying 3 pairs right now and I shared on both my personal page and my business page!! I hope we can all accomplish at least 100 by Monday!!!

  3. Lena

    This is awesome. One pair of moonberry chiffon sandals coming my way!

  4. amy

    I just bought the birthday pack and an another black pair (you know, cuz you can never have too many pairs of black sandals)! So excited to get them and I made sure to put your guys down as my "ambassador"!

  5. Laurajane

    i found these sandals about a month ago when i was researching companies that treat their workers ethically (and finding ones that don’t so i can stop shopping there). i just love the story behind them and the shoes are super cute. i actually have several photos from the website sitting on my desktop waiting to be blogged, so i guess i know what i’m doing today.

  6. Leslie Barresi

    I absolutely love this! Thanks so much for bringing it up. I recently found a cool store back home in OKC that has a similar principle where everything they sell has profits that go towards charities. I went to their FB page to make sure they know about Sseko and then realized that the clutches I liked on ShopGood OKC’s website were actually from Sseko. The only thing better than being stylish is being stylish for a cause!!!


    omygod. I’m sooo excited. I’m buying a pair, and a CLUTCH, as we speak. And spreading the link like wildfire. xoxo

  8. Kandise

    I’m not sure, but I *think* these are the sandals the bridal party was wearing in my most recent wedding! Very cool. (http://www.kandisebrown.com/2012/07/delta-fredericton-wedding-photography-tom-kait/)

  9. Rosaura

    so awesome and wonderful. just bought a pair for my neice. can’t decide which color to get for me but i will buy some for me too. posted on my fb and retweeted. love you! we can make 100 for sure!

  10. Jil

    just bought a pair of moonberry chiffon and forwarded to lots of female friends! what a great company and what a cute shoe!!

  11. Erin Chrisman

    Just bought two of the bags – that counts right? :)

  12. Rosaura

    update! a friend of mine just bought 2 of the bags! hoping more of my friends will buy something too! xoxo

  13. Kari Jeanne

    This is INCREDIBLE – thank you so much for sharing! I am definitely buying a pair TONIGHT and putting that adorable clutch on my wish list :) Sharing this for sure!!!

  14. Leslie Barresi

    Birthday pack purchased! Lots of you tube tying instructional videos reviewed- can’t wait for them to get here!

  15. Eryn Kesler

    I love sseko! I hosted a part a few years ago taking orders but they have come so far! Thanks for bringing them back to mind! I will reshare!

  16. Jen Aray

    I bought a pair and will share with as many as I can! ;)

  17. Susan Evans

    I don’t know how many were tallied up by Monday, but I just read this yesterday and bought 1 pr plus extra laces. Great idea!

  18. meg simone

    I just found this post from Spring Smith’s facebook page and I LOVE supporting things like this! Plus those sandals are super fun! I just sent out an email to friends and hope to place an order for my family with at least three pairs tomorrow :) Sorry to be late to the party!

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