Surf Trip Spawns Sustainable Shoe Startup – Indosole

ban-startup-fridayBack in 2004, while working as a sales rep in the outdoor/action sports industry, Kyle Parsons took a vacation to Bali that changed the course of his life. Kind of. See, he used to sell ski helmets and now he sells flip-flops. But the terms have changed. Instead or representing other company’s brands, Parsons started his own company, called Indosole.

“I was captivated by the landscape, people and culture in Bali, so I started scheming on how to get back there,” says Parsons, recalling his first trip to the island.

To produce flip-flops and other sandals, Indosole upcycles used tires from motorbikes, which are ubiquitous in Bali.

It all started when he found a pair of clunky flip-flops made from a tired tread in a Bali store and started talking to the shopkeeper about the product. The product had piqued his interest, but he knew that in order to sell in them in the US, he’d need a way to make the shoes thinner, more streamlined–something more closely resembling what Reef or Rainbow sells. Those sell quite well. A “greener” version, he reasoned, could sell even better.

Eventually, Parsons partnered with Adrian Ellis, a British business man who operates a clothing and apparel business, called Komodo, that sells into the European market. Ellis operates a small factory in Bali to produce shoes out of used motorbike tires, where Indosole now also sources its shoes.

Two pairs of sandals are made from a single tire. This video shows how they’re made:

IndoSole Production Process from IndoSole on Vimeo.

Indosole sells online and through a number of sports shops from San Francisco to Santa Cruz to Tahoe. Each pair of the shoes, which are priced from $45 to $65 (depending on the upper material used), comes packaged in a reusable tote made out of a rice bag.

Sales are good and the future looks bright for Parsons and his girlfriend-slash-partner, Faye Middleton. They just secured $40K in seed funding and may soon be able to move out of Parsons’ apartment and into a proper office. Onward and upward.

Freelance writer Mary Catherine O'Connor finds that a growing number of companies are proving the ways that they can make good financially, socially and environmentally (as the triple bottom line theory suggests).With that in mind, she contributes to Triple Pundit, as well as to Earth2Tech and other pubs focused on sustainability. She also writes The Good Route, an Outside Magazine blog that addresses the intersection of sustainability and the active/outdoor life.To find out more, or to reach her, go to

Leave a Reply