Industry Spotlight, Rachel Drew, June 2014
Rachel Drew is from Ocean Sole, a unique company that makes products handmade in Kenya using recycled flip-flops collected from local beaches and waterways.
1. What makes your product unique?
Ocean Sole products are handmade in Kenya using recycled flip-flops collected from local beaches and waterways. Thousands and thousands of colorful flip-flops wash up onto the East African coast creating a natural disaster. Not only do they spoil the natural beauty of the coastline, these lost soles can also be mistaken for food by birds, fish and other animals. We remove their threat to marine ecosystems by upcycling them into fun animal sculptures that come with a wonderful message about conservation.
2. What is your retail background?
Ocean Sole has been exporting their products into the global market for nine years. The local Kenyan market used to take priority, but in the past year we have tripled international sales by working with zoos and aquariums to encourage buyers to think ethically when choosing souvenirs for their gift shops.
3. What is the most popular product you sell?
Our small and medium animals, particularly the elephant and giraffe, are our most popular products. We have just introduced a gorilla to the flip-flop family and we hope he will be a bestseller!
4. What are your top three retail tips?
We don’t profess to be experts, but we would say:
1. Know your audience. Tailor your products and marketing efforts to appeal to buyers.
2. Be consistent with product quality, customer service and company integrity.
3. Have a good story and good ethics. Products that help the environment, support vulnerable communities, come with a responsible message and/or a feel-good factor are becoming increasingly popular.