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Interview with Kyle Parsons, Founder and CEO of Indosole

In 2004, Kyle Parsons was inspired by a pair of sandals in Bali and established Indosole in 2009 after a five-year decision and development process. I talked with Kyle Parsons about the story and sandals of Indosole.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Kyle Parsons

Kyle Parsons


by Mehmet Kaplan

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Waste tire problem is one of the realities of our world. Every recyclable tire means protecting nature. Following his trip to Bali in 2004, Kyle Parsons worked on this issue and created a stylish solution. He designed an organic process where he could transform waste tires into shoe soles. And since 2009, Indosole has been producing tire soled footwear and also protecting the environment. In order to learn more about this solution and its results, I talked with Kyle Parsons, Founder and CEO of Indosole.

Kyle, before talking about Indosole, could you tell us about your industry experience?

I founded the company after some time in the snowboard industry as a sales rep.



I would like to turn back to 2004. What did you see in Bali? What inspired you to do research about a problem that unveils the idea of Indosole?

The idea for Indosole was created on my surf trip to Bali in 2004. I went on a trip to Bali. During surfing, I recognized there was a lot of trash in the sea. And I also noticed that the beaches on Bali are covered with trash, which changed the course of my life. Through my trip, I purchased a pair of sandals with soles made of motorbike tires and uppers made of woven grass. This unique sandals and the environmental issues I faced by the Indonesians prompted me to learn more about this worldwide tire problem. I found out that over one billion waste tires end up in landfills every year. This made me even more appreciative of the resourcefulness that leads to the creation of my sandals.

What kind of research and plans did you make from 2004 to 2009?

What started in 2006 as suitcases full of sandals rolling through airports between Bali and California and sold them to friends and family. Indosole has steadily grown into a legitimate business. The development of a unique product like Indosole has taken some time - we had to create a process to work with raw tires and turn them into shoe soles without compromising the integrity of the product, all while keeping the entire process organic.



And you decided to establish Indosole. Could you tell us about Indosole and your team?

In 2009 Indosole was launched, a unique solution was created to the pollution problem in Indonesia, a product that was both fashionable and functional. Indosole wants to reduce the worldwide waste tire problem by upcycling and recycling tires into footwear and soles. The company also provides fair employment to the Indonesian artisans and is a certified B Corporation, which means using business as a force for good. Indosole is headquartered in San Francisco and Bali.

Communicating with the Bali crew via Skype has definitely been a challenge over the years. Our production manager and Indonesian/California native, Kai Paul, has been key in managing things on the Bali side. He speaks the language, has a network and has done a great job of taking control of our manufacturing process over there.

The roots of the brand and main office are in San Francisco, where we have a growing fan base. Since SF’s climate is significantly different than SoCal and Bali, we’ve had to take a different approach with our marketing, but it’s definitely an area where urban trends are created, so it has been satisfying to make ourselves a staple among the local community here.

Why do you prefer to produce your products in Indonesia? Could you tell us about the story and the aims of your project?

We manufacture in Java and Bali, Indonesia and are headquartered in San Francisco, CA, USA. Waste tires are available everywhere, but for now, as we grow, we prefer to stick with the people and the culture that created Indosole and have been with us since its inception.



Could you tell us about your production process? How do your products help to save our planet?

We dedicated the last 10 years to be the environmental keepers of the future. We merged artisan skill with corrective impact, developing a laborious shoemaking process that transforms tires to soles by hand. Through this analog technology and circular thinking we were able to save over 80K+ tires from landfills but looking at the exponential rate of industrial world waste, we realized we had to up our game.

Then, I decided that instead of leaving behind scraps, I could use 100 percent of the tire if I found a way to grind down the rubber into a fine powder and melt it into soles.

- Soles are 100 percent recycled tire mixed with 40 percent recycled EVA (ethylene-vinylacetate copolymer) and calcium deposits.
- Uppers are natural rubber mixed with EVA.
- Straps are a material called enviro fiber, which is made without water and is used by only four other footwear brands in the world.

What kind of materials do you prefer to use in your production?

In addition to the tires it uses, Indosole sandals and shoes also feature other repurposed materials like burlap sacks and coffee wrappers. For everything else, the folks at Indosole turn to the Earth itself, using materials like dried grass that’s been stitched together. You won’t find any animal materials in Indosole products; they’re a “vegan” company, one that operates without fuel-powered machinery or smokestacks.



How many different designs do you offer your customers who want to save our planet?

Our newest footwear is the ESSNTLS Slide. Through that conversation and months of development, we created a whole new product line that we are super proud of. That product line called, the ESSNTLS, allowed us to produce our most successful flip-flop in our brand’s history and now we are ready to drop our second silhouette under the ESSNTLS umbrella - THE INDO SLIDE.

We offer the following footwear:

- Pantai
- Kota
- Tan Burlap
- Ikhanna
- Double 6
- Prahu
- ESSNTLS Flip Flops
- ESSNTLS Slides

Besides footwear, we just started selling tees and a tote bag.



Could you tell us about the common features of your products?

All of our products are made with our signature tire soles.

Made without animals or the use of fuel powered machinery

Responsibly made

Should we wait for new designs and products? Do you have new sketches on the drawing table?

We are excited to launch our new collection at the beginning of next year.

What do you think about the power of social media on buyer's decisions? How can our readers follow Indosole?

Social Media is powerful nowadays and we are active on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Instagram is our most used medium to get our message to our market. You may have seen our production process snapshots on it.



How can our readers buy Indosole products?

We just opened our first Indosole Flagship Store in Canggu, Bali. Please visit our retail locator on the website to see where we are located.

What is next for you?

Make as much impact environmentally and provide as many new jobs as possible.

Save one million tires from overflowing Indonesian landfills: Make strategic partnerships with tire companies. The company invests a lot of money and time in research and development and has come with a new technology. Now they have a zero-waste system and can save more tires.

Entering new markets worldwide.

Anything you would like to add that I haven’t asked?

We are a community-oriented brand. We run beach cleanups and throw events to get the community involved with our story and to hear from them at the ground level. We want to enact a change in our customers but also in the communities in which we live.

Thank you Kyle.

For more information, please visit the website of Indosole