Over the years, I have watched many purpose-driven businesses fold; the free market is unpredictable and doesn’t prioritise businesses with heartfelt missions.
In order for ethical businesses, in fact any business, to survive in the marketplace, it must offer a product or service customers are willing to purchase; it must adapt to changes within the environment; constantly review business strategy; seize market opportunities; have access to capital in order to grow and of course make customers happy enough that they’ll sing praises about the business and bring more customers to its door.
So when I received an email from Melissa Gray, founder of Kaleidoscope Global – an Australian business with distribution rights to sell Tintsaba fair-trade jewellery – and realised that her business is still alive and kicking almost two years after I’d worked on its ad campaign, I was thrilled! The Australian Bureau of Statistics concludes that 60 percent of small businesses cease operating within the first three years – Kaleidoscope is five years old. It’s avoided becoming a failed small business statistic – yay!
Here’s the intro to Melissa’s email:
It’s Mel here from Tintsaba. In September last year I became the distributor for Inkkas shoes. So now I have two brands, am even more busy, still doing everything myself!… “
As soon as I read it, I gave Melissa a call on the number listed in her email signature. I was more than happy to help the exclusive Australian distributor promote Inkkas fair trade shoes.
After chatting with Melissa and learning more about the brand, I agreed that a product review would be best. I browse the Inkkas Australia website in search of the perfect pair of vegan shoes to add to my minimalist ethical wardrobe.
After several minutes of surfing through the women’s shoe categories (high top, low top , slip ons, jogger), I finally settle on the Slate Slip Ons promoted as ‘vegan’. I particularly liked the grey and pink pattern and felt the shoes would add just the right amount of colour without being OTT and overwhelming other outfit combinations.
I measure my foot and it’s approximately 22cm and email Mel to let her know. She replies that she’ll send me a EUR 36.
When the parcel arrives and I open the box, I instantly knew I had made the right decision. I picked up one of the shoes and waved it to my fiance Ben, trying to distract him from his work. He looked up from his HP laptop and said: “Woah, they’re cool. Do they make men’s sneakers too?”
I’m barefoot and try them on and walk around in them. The shoes are extremely comfortable. But after a few minutes walking around the office, I notice the right shoe slipping. It is the smaller of my feet (yes, it’s true, I’m not completely symmetrical, it’s the same with my boobs lol!) so I make a mental note to get some insoles to fix this minor problem.
What I like about Inkkas ethical sneakers.
Being vegan, I like that Inkkas manufactures and sells vegan shoes. That it’s also endorsed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) legitimises the brand’s vegan claims.
I also respect the brand’s mission. When the ethical shoe company launched in 2012, it sought to approach business in a socially-responsible non-exploitative way. Its aim is to preserve the traditional cultures and artisanal skills of the workers, empower South American communities and bring beautifully handmade shoes to the attention of global consumers. As an ethical style blogger, I am partial to a philanthropic mission so of course it gets a big tick from me. This video also gives me the warm and fuzzies.
Now days later when Ben and I head off to scout for locations for our photo shoot, I notice a few people look down at my shoes. Of course these shoes make a statement, they’re colourful and stand out. So if you’re a wallflower these shoes aren’t for you. You’ll definitely get noticed. I’m an extrovert and I like unique fashion that makes strong statements about my identity, so Inkkas are perfect for me.
So I give the design of the shoes a tick; it’s like wearable art. The vibrant shoes are unmistakably South American, evident in its intricate and colourful fabric patterns. Made in Peru and Mexico, the Inkkas fabrics are produced in partnership with Peruvian workshops owned by resident Peruvians. There is an authenticity to these shoes that no dodgy sweatshop factory in South East Asia can replicate!
The factories are modern, safe, and abide by the most stringent labor law restrictions. All employees are above 18 years of age and are fairly compensated with a wage that is 2 to 5 times the average wage in Peru. – Inkkas
Although I prefer wearing edgy androgynous outfits (think Lara Croft) because I now sport boy short hair, these shoes provide a contrast to my monochromatic ensembles. They brighten my outfits and bring femininity and playfulness to my existing wardrobe. For this shoot, I teamed them up with this beautiful certified organic dress from Les-Sublimes for a more relaxed and casual vibe.
Last but definitely not least, I really admire that the brand has teamed up with Trees For The Future to participate in their One Shoe One Tree project where Inkkas plants one tree for every purchase. I’m an environmentalist that lives on an organic farm and tree planting is an activity that I frequently indulge in. To know that Inkkas is helping reforest the world, and particularly the Amazon rainforest, means they score extra brownie points.
Now just a heads up before making a purchase…
Inkkas is not entirely a ‘vegan’ shoe brand. It sells both vegan and non-vegan shoes. Before making a purchase, read the product information to be absolutely certain before adding to your shopping cart.
On the Inkkas Australia website there is a special tab on the navigation menu titled ‘vegan’ which makes it easy to determine whether the shoes are vegan or not. My Slate Slip On shoes are vegan and made from “fabrics handmade from local artisans in Peru” canvas with a rubber outsole. Of course canvas could be made from natural materials such as cotton, linen and hemp so I emailed Mel and the parent company for further clarification (Is it organic? Where do they source it? Where does the rubber come from?) and will provide you the information as it comes to light.
As for the Inkkas’ non-vegan shoe line; it’s made from traditional textiles sourced from the wool of animals that are native to the area, such as sheep, llamas and alpacas. I recommend reading the brand’s blog post titled ‘Handcrafted Textiles Made in South America‘ as it provides further information.
All in all, Inkkas gets two thumbs up from me.
To shop the range of ethical shoes and vegan sneakers, visit www.inkkas.com.au. Make sure to use the code FREESHIP at checkout and you’ll get free shipping!
Disclosure: This post was created for and sponsored by Kaleidoscope Global Pty Ltd. Eco Warrior Princess is wearing Inkkas Slate Slip-Ons which were gifted as part of this relationship. We only support brands that meet our high ethical standards. For more information, click here.