Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Company turns old sandals into colorful objects

08 May 2013, 15:02

Nairobi - The colorful handmade giraffes, elephants and warthogs made in a Nairobi workshop were once only dirty pieces of rubber cruising the Indian Ocean's currents.

Kenya's Ocean Sole sandal recycling company is cleaning beaches of used, washed-up flip-flops.

Workers in Nairobi make about 100 different products from the discarded flip-flops. In 2008 the company shipped an 18-foot giraffe to Rome for display during a fashion week.

Company founder Julie Church says the goal of her company is to create products that people want to buy, then make them interested in the back-story.

Workers wash the flip-flops, many of which have been repaired several times. Artisans then glue together the various colors, carve the products, sand and rewash them.

Church first noticed Kenyan children turning flip-flops into toy boats around 1999, when she worked as a marine scientist for WWF and the Kenya Wildlife Service on Kenya's coast near the border with Somalia.

Turtles hatching on the beach had to fight their way through the debris on beaches to get to the ocean, Church said, and a plan to clean up the debris and create artistic and useful items gained momentum. WWF ordered 15,000 key rings, and her eco-friendly project took off.

It has not made Church rich, however. The company turns over about $150,000 a year, she said. Last year it booked a small loss.

But new investment money is flowing in, and the company is in the midst of rebranding itself from its former name — the FlipFlop Recycling Company — to Ocean Sole.

The company aims to sell 70 percent of its products outside Kenya. It has distributors in the United States, Europe and new inquiries from Japan. Its biggest purchasers are zoos and aquariums.

One of Church's employees is Dan Wambui, who said he enjoys interacting with visitors who come to the Nairobi workshop.

"They come from far ... when they see what we are doing we see them really happy and they are appreciating. We feel internationally recognized and we feel happy about it," Wambui said.

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
S Mbinya
Natural aphrodisiacs to boost lib...

It is advisable to take them before sex in order to achieve maximum benefit. Read more...

Submitted by
Jayne Zack
Raila has lost his remaining bull...

He added that Jubilee and Cord are like day and night. Read more...

Submitted by
Ben Wangui
Mudavadi of no value to CORD, say...

Leader of Majority in National Assembly, Adan Duale has said that ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi is of no value to CORD. Read more...

Submitted by
George Vodongo
Peter Kenneth will not run for Pr...

He clarified that he will not run for Presidency in 2017 as he supports Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election bid. Read more...

Submitted by
Ben Wangui
Exams should not have political g...

He also said that school properties must not ‘carry any political portraits’. Read more...

Submitted by
S Mbinya
Matatu crew drugs female passenge...

Hours after the story was circulated on social media Sunday, the crew was traced at Dagoretti and arrested. Read more...