Shopping for spring sandals? Strap on a classic, stylish pair from soleRebels, a shoe company that’s making eco-friendly fashion while redefining fair trade business.

Would-be ethical consumers in the U.S. like to support green-minded companies with a mission to help less privileged countries — whether it’s through fair trade, community projects, or charitable donations. Many of those do-gooder companies are led by American entrepreneurs; less common are similar companies led by entrepreneurs in those so-called third world countries. SoleRebels is one of the latter, founded by an Ethiopian entrepreneur called Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu — along with her husband and brother — to create jobs in their village in Zenabwork, Ethiopia.

SoleRebels shoes

And soleRebel’s cute shoes are making big strides into the American and European markets! These eco-friendly kicks are made by local artisans in Ethiopia who upcycle used car tires and vintage camouflage fabrics, handloom organic cotton fabrics, and prepare greener shoe leathers through an artisan process and vegetable tanning — all to create fashion-friendly styles designed after traditional Ethiopian footwear.

soleRebels is a brand of Bostex, which stands for “By Our-selves Textiles,” emphasizing the company’s commitment to preserving traditional heritage and creating its own economic successes. Bostex is the first registered Ethiopian member of the World Fair Trade Organization, and is committed to fair trade practices like sustainable production, healthy working conditions, and better wages for workers.

SoleRebels shoes

Though purchasing directly through soleRebel’s website’s cumbersome, American shoppers can browse and buy with soleRebel shoes with ease at Endless and Amazon. Some Urban Outfitters and Whole Foods also carry soleRebel designs. Prices range from about $15 for some slip-ons and flipflops to $60 for sturdy lace-up sneakers.

SoleRebels with a fair trade cause
A fair trade Ethiopian company upcycles old tires and camouflage fabrics into casual eco-friendly kicks.