Sublime: What is the driving force behind BODO’s vision?
Peter Lochan: We wanted to create fashionable ethical-sandals that would be made out of globally abundant recyclable materials. We then wanted to create a business model around this, which would allow us to provide durable and practical footwear to people living in poverty-stricken communities.
S: Have you always aspired to run a social enterprise?
PL: I have tended to gravitate towards ethically-minded organisations. Previously, I worked as a mentor for those from disadvantaged backgrounds and youths, to help them prioritise academic achievement and them become role models for their peers. I have also helped to deter people from turning to violent crime and gangs, by empowering at-risk individuals.
S: How did you come up with the idea?
PL: The inspiration for BODO came from my uncle. He lived in Trinidad and Tobago back in the 60s, where he and many people around him struggled with poverty and unemployment.
Workers on the oil fields in Trinidad suffered from a lack of suitable footwear. My uncle came up with the idea to create new, durable shoe soles out of used car tyres. Simply using the oil field workers existing shoe, he cut out the shape of the shoe by asking the worker to stand on a piece of car tyre, cutting around the shoe, leaving a sole that was then nailed onto the worker’s existing shoe.
S: Do you think social enterprises are becoming much more valuable to consumers?
PL: There is a great deal of interest in social enterprises today because the social approach offers a new and more sustainable avenue for us to address the world’s most pressing issues.
S: What were the initial challenges of setting up the company?
PL: The main challenges I incurred was finding the funding to start and then finding the right team to help make BODO come to life.
S: Are you a long-time footwear fanatic?
PL: Ever since I can remember, I have always been a footwear addict. I went through the 80s and 90s buying, selling and trading footwear, most of which was used. I had this love for the way they look, and the way they made you look. As I left my younger years behind, I soon began to realise that not only is footwear there to make a fashion statement, but also an essential tool that can actually prevent many health-related problems, suffered mainly by people in developing countries.
S: Your sandals are really stylish; how did you come up with the design?
PL: The design was developed by accident. I went out and purchased a cheap pair of unbranded sandals and simply cut a car tyre around it. Then, I stuck the two together and left it to dry. Suddenly, the toebox of the sandal started rising up, and thought this actually does look really cool. That was the point of inspiration. I brought in a friend, who is an artist, to sketch it out.
S: What excites you most about running BODO?
PL: Simply being able to take our small idea, sharing it with the world and working towards making a big difference.
S: What is next for BODO? Where do you see the company going in the future?
PL: BODO is launching a Kickstarter campaign, which will enable us to ship over our first run of BODO sandals and manufacture our first donation batch of children’s sandals. We are also looking at new sponsoring opportunities with hospitals, abuse centers and homeless shelters.