Alohas Sandals

Made in Spain. Designed in Barcelona. Inspired in Hawaii

Monday 8 June 2015, by adriana, AnaRaya, Juan Ehlis, Victoria

A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

Alohas Sandals is a firm that sells traditional sandals from Menorca, a Balearic island. The sandals that they sell are similar to flip-flops, but with a different design and with more resistance and durability. The idea of the business came up when one of the founders and his girlfriend were walking in the streets of Hawaii and they were usually asked for their shoes and where they had bought them. So, he saw an opportunity to run a business. He was in the perfect place to run it, since Hawaii is a place where it is always good weather and the lifestyle is pretty summery, so it won’t be a product as stationary as it is here in Spain. Nowadays, the design and production is done in Barcelona, but they offer worldwide shipping when buying online and also sell in some stores in Australia and Hawaii. During the next months they have planned to expand the business to South Africa, Japan and Middle Orient, with the goal to arrive around the world, but conserving all the ethical values that make this company special, motivating and inspirational.

B. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

"Step by step project: with every pair of alohas you purchase, you will help to create a more sustainable world."

This company focuses its pro-ethical activity in a project called “Step by Step Project”. This project is divided into 3 major aspects that develop the ethical challenges that this company is addressing: PLANET, PEOPLE AND PROFIT.
The main objective of the campaign is to inspire a fun lifestyle and fashion that can be sustainable, given the 3Ps (Planet, People and Profit). They want to show that we can do business in a sustainable way, without bad practices, and encourage society to act like them. This mean that they want not only to do things right, furthermore they are trying to change the system by setting an example to follow, encouraging consumers and other agents of the economy to follow a lifestyle that promotes biodiversity and environmental protection. They want to provide an example that companies with good practices are profitable and have no need to reduce costs by making their products in under-developing countries where conditions are deplorable for workers. Its goals focus on respecting the planet and creating perhaps small but long-term profit for each agent of society.

What are the 3Ps?

1. PLANET: Regarding environment.
Alohas Sandals cares about the planet, basing their actions on what inspired the Aloha culture: taking care of the “Aina” (“land” in the native language of Hawaiians), aiming to show people that it is possible to live and be fashion in a sustainable way, spreading the Aloha in all of our aspects of life. The actions that show us that Alohas Sandals cares about the planet are:
• Lifespan is 3 times longer than the usual materials. The material they use to make sandals last much longer, therefore, it can make the product more leverage, without generating residual materials to the planet.
• No boxes are used for packaging and it facilitates circulating economy: the cloth bags are used for many things, and are biodegradables.
• Sales are recyclable, so they promote a green economy, which turns into improving the environment without creating typically from oil and sandals normal residuals.
• They use part of the profits to create fun and sustainable events with the help of different nonprofit organizations around the world to promote active recycling and environmental protection, educating people to give value to our ecosystem. Examples of that are the meetings they organize to help to clean the beaches of Hawaii.

2. PEOPLE: Regarding job practices.
The sandals are handcrafted in Spain by workers who are given a fair wage and comfortable working conditions. With high quality materials and recycled tires for the salts, they perfectly fit the necessities of consumers for excellent quality, and furthermore, really sustainable sandal. The company aims to demonstrate to the system that with recycled materials, in addition to not harm the environment (like the soles of common shoes derived from petroleum), it is possible to make high quality products without the need to damage the planet and without manufacture in countries where working conditions are deplorable.

3. PROFIT: Regarding the profit obtained by selling sandals.
The profit of sandal’s sale contributes to the campaign Step by Step, where they partner with an NGO to spread sustainable and fair life for all people. This NGO is called “Live Below the Line”, and they carry on many campaigns related to the most worrying problems of the society (poverty, education…). Alohas Sandals promotes different campaigns of this NGO through social networks and encourage participants to donate, in addition to allocate part of the benefit of sandals directly to the NGO. Some of the projects are:
• “Education transform lives”
Working for education of thousands of young people in Cambodia, Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea.
• “Live Below the line and Ockrane”
The operation of the web is also very interesting. It is a kind of co-working, in which individuals, universities, companies, community groups, workplaces and even groups of friends with a computer name, donate money and get ranked depending on how much money is donated. This proposal encourages and incentives to donate, as it is like a competition game, where each participant marks his own goal.

C. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

“Step by Step, inspiring a FUN and SUSTAINABLE lifestyle.”

We have chosen Alohas Sandals as an example of ethical business because we find very inspiring to see how a young couple created an ambitious project that is not only a profitable business, but also a project which respects the ethical values they believe in.
One of the facts that makes us believe this company is really ethical is because we personally know some of the founders, so we are able to see that the values followed by the company are also followed by them in their daily lives, and this behavior makes us trust the company.
Another aspect that inspires us about Alohas Sandals is the idea that anyone of us is able to change things, since we have seen that the entrepreneurs who created the company were young students not so different of us. And they have demonstrated that it is possible to obtain profitable results being ethical and conscious about the environment.
Moreover the personal reasons, what makes us trust the company is that its whole activity reflects ethical and environmental values. As we have seen in the previous section, the company faces many ethical challenges and the ideas to solve them are all involved in the main activity of the business. Its mission and vision are always present in the production process, marketing and sales, by following their principles of the 3 Ps, and furthermore, in the collaborations the company has with NGOs in Hawaii. Recently the company has traveled to Australia and has started there some ethical projects and actions, in the line of Step by Step, such as the “Live below the Line” project.

D.The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

Alohas Sandals are artistic eco-friendly sandals made with genuine leather and recyclable rubber sole. Although the sole may be recyclable, it does not mean that the consumers will do it because of the lack of information of the recycling process of the sole.
A possible solution could be to create a forum in the webpage to give and share information between the company and the consumers or within the clients. A second idea would be to open a recycling or collecting center of Alohas Sandals in strategic points in different cities, so in this is a way all the consumers would have access to leave their old shoes in recycling points indicated.
Another plausible solution could be to follow other companies’ strategies, such as Timberland, to improve their recycled materials, their product and the process. As they want to expand, improving these aspects would also imply a careful choice of partners’ yields and a strong and top-down inner-company dialogue.
Another important problem that the company can find in the future is the challenge on its expansion. One of the clear objectives, according to its founders, is expanding worldwide and to reach this goal it is necessary to establish contacts with distributors in different countries where Alohas Sandals cannot reach yet. The problem in the future is: Could the fact of expansion make the company move away of some ethical values that make it special? Will the expansion around the world take into account with which dealers negotiate? The main problem can be that those distributors’ interests may be different from the company’s ones and then, it is important to think about how they will overcome asymmetric information with the dealers and how to know exactly whether these distributors have the same ethical values that make the company special.
In the other hand, a future challenge that the company raises is the price of its product. We can consider that it is expensive compared to the design of other similar sandals, so a future problem is that customers could stop worrying about the quality of the ethical values of the company and chose cheaper products. The key point will be how to retain customers, and also get new ones with the expansion, while increasing the added value of the company.
Despite these future challenges, with difficult and variable solutions, we are confident that Alohas Sandals has created a difference from the other companies; it has shown that it is possible to make profits and be a completely ethical company. It does not take a great vision or mission with great ethical projections, Alohas Sandals has shown that with a small budget many things can be done and that small actions and awareness can change the world. Alohas Sandals inspires us because it has a form of birth and differs from other companies: within the system it has managed to do something different, like the story of the little hummingbird.

Bibliography

http://www.alohassandals.com/
http://www.alohassandals.com.au/

Sector: Manufacturing

Official website: http://www.alohassandals.com/

Key figures:

Stockists in Hawaii (USA) and Australia and shipping around the world.

Nbr. visits: 467