Monday, September 15, 2008

Soles4Souls in Celeb Life Magazine

Wayne Elsey, the founder of Soles4souls sat down with Merle Goldberg of Celeb Life to talk about where shoes have taken him.

CELEB LIFE: What is Soles4Souls?
WAYNE ELSEY: Soles4souls simply changes the world, one pair at a time, with the gift of shoes. We don't partner with any one religion, color or sex. Your need of shoes is our business. It's a call to action.

CL: How did you start such a focused organization?
WE: I saw a single shoe wash up on the shore during the (Asian) tsunami. It rocked my world. I started making phone calls. Six weeks later, we had 250,000 pairs of shoes. Then Katrina happened. I thought: If we did it for the people in Southeast Asia, why not here? I called shoe companies, and I was running a business at the time, so I was doing this between midnight and 6 a.m. We collected over 750,000 pairs of shoes, and within six to eight weeks we were shipping product down there.

CL: Where do the shoes go?
WE: Thirty-eight percent of our outreach is here in the United States. People are hurting in cities all over the country. Unfortunately, that population is growing because of what's happening with the economy. Barefoot week, which was the first week of June, we gave away 325,000 pairs of brand new shoes in five markets - Atlanta, Miami, Detroit, New Orleans, and Taylor, Arizona (Indian Reservation).
The other 62% is distributed around the world, especially Africa. Hookworm is a huge problem there. One pair of shoes can prevent hookworm. The need over there is great.

CL: Who has helped you spread the word?
WE: A little over a year ago, Scarlett Johansson publically donated several thousand pairs of shoes at a Nordstroms. They were Reeboks, which has the license for her product. We talked to Don Cheadle about Darfur. He donated product to us, which we shipped over there. Some of our major donors are companies like Timberland, New Balance, and Reebok.

CL: How can people donate, and where?
WE: Go to our website, Every 28 seconds all around the world, we give away a pair of shoes. But that's not good enough. Here's the CEO side of me: Our goal for 2009 is one pair every 14 seconds. We'll take Nikes, Adidas, or even $1 flip-flops.

CL: How many pairs of shoes do you have in your closet?
WE: Five! My closet use to hold 50. There are 1.5 billion pairs of shoes in closets across the U.S. How many pairs of shoes do you have in your closet?

No comments: