April 3, 2019,
Christal Earle was a social entrepreneur, humanitarian, and Brave Soles founder. He saw the debilitating effects of poverty on stateless people living in rubbish dumps across the globe. However, it stimulated an idea: What if these tires could be turned into up-cycled soles for shoes?
Written by Andrew Seale
A friend gave $1,000 to Brave Soles founder Christal Earle at a dinner in 2002. He told her that she’d be able to decide what to do. It had been nearly 10 years since she was last in Canada. She lived between Toronto and Dominican Republic for two weeks, fighting to bring Widlene back to Canada. Earle, her rent due, was a joy to see.
In the midst of all this, the social entrepreneur that founded Live Different and later resigned from it, was writing sticky notes on her kitchen walls with bits and pieces for a plan to make soles out of tires and hand-make up-cycled shoes and sandals.
Earle states, “I calculated I would need $250 in order to begin it.” Her $1,000 had just arrived. “Rent was $750.
She began work on Brave Soles the following day after she had paid her rent.
It had been long overdue. Earle, who has dedicated a lot of her humanitarian work to helping people in trash dumps across the globe where most stateless go to look for work, spent large portions of her career.
She explained that “they collect bottles and plastics, and that’s their way of making a living.” “They survive on just a dollar or two per day.”
The most common problem was tires. Earle said that they’d often burn tires. Earle also admitted to watching the gases and chemicals seeping into the ground and the air as Earle watched. She left her apartment at the D.R. in 2017. And she commented on some shoes that she thought were cute for a girl. Then it was clear: Recycle tires to create shoes and provide employment for locals.
In June 2017, she started her business after using $250 for prototypes. According to her, she sold 40 pairs of the prototypes within the first 24 hours after posting a Facebook update. Her sales total reached $120,000 at the end. “This year, it will be three or four times.”
Earle believes it validates that business can place equal value on people, planet and profits. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is easy.
The journey to social change or social ventures is often lonely. While you work within business principles and have your own criteria, the mission of your organization transcends those that people see. “There is an intrinsic motivation. Although I don’t claim that in an arrogant manner, it’s clear that if I do this I will be satisfied.
One of her keys to staying motivated was finding her “tribe.” Brave Soles is a member both of the fashion Zone at Ryerson University, as well as CSI’s Climate Ventures. This cross-sector incubator supports climate entrepreneurs, innovators, leaders, and others.
Climate Ventures is helping her keep grounded. She said, “We have such an incredible startup ecosystem in Toronto. There are also amazing mentorship networks.” “It is one thing to want to do these kinds of things. It’s quite another to be able to show that we are actually doing it.
Brave Soles isn’t something that she considers a given. It came to her when she was most in need. It’s still a struggle for her to bring her child back to Canada. It is not easy to solve the problems of the homeless living in rubbish dumps across the world. Brave Stoles she hopes is an example of how to start something.
You can choose from a multitude of choices, she said. But my mantra is always “What’s the best next choice that I can make?”
Photo credit: Cameron Bartlett (www.snappedbycam.com)