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Why we left the UN to start a fashion brand – Alice + Whittles

Why we left the UN to start a fashion brand.

Using fashion to solve a real problem.

Founders Nick and Sofi have an unusual origin story. They’re not your typical fashion entrepreneurs. They met, fell in love, and became inspired to create real change through their work at the UN. Both worked in the field in Tunisia during the civil war to help Libyan refugees. While visiting refugee camps, they were inspired by the ingenuity they saw all around them: shops springing up, unconventional yet effective food preparations were being used (like using rain water instead of triple filtered water to make coffee), and a thriving micro economy was emerging. Nick and Sofi realized that true change starts at the ground level, that you can’t help people out of poverty and war without innovation and opportunity.

They knew they needed to do more; they needed to figure out a way to empower people and create a more sustainable, even playing field across the globe.

When they left the UN, they started working on a sustainable Espadrille project (funded by Kickstarter). They saw a positive impact on the supply chain immediately, and wanted to do more. Then they discovered how terrible the rubber industry is and became determined: rubber boots — a staple of UN work — were some of the dirtiest, unsustainable footwear on the planet.

They knew they could do better.

Fair trade. Fair rubber.

When Nick and Sofi found out how opaque the rubber industry was, they set decided to set their sights on a better solution. They found Sri Lankan rubber farmers who harvested sustainably and who were open to fair trade production.

Cut to today, where Nick and Sofi work closely with their manufacturers to create the beautiful rubber that defines the Alice + Whittles boot. Each purchase supports the fair trade of rubber and bolsters the local Sri Lankan economy, providing jobs for farmers and makers for a boot that fits your foot and your ethics.