By Bart Beck.
Usually, when we think of the sourcing of shoes, we tend to think of Asian countries such as China, or in the cases of some Redwing Boots and Keens, here in the United States. If asked what products found in the U.S. market are manufactured and sourced from Africa the most notable might be coco beans, oil, diamonds, and precious metals (notice that these are mostly extracted natural resources and not manufactured goods). However, there is now a company that has set out to challenge those notions and help many people in the process: Oliberté.
Oliberté is the manufacturer of stylish, comfortable, and well built shoes. Focusing mainly on leather, their line features everything from slip-ons to ankle supporting boots. The company is also making bags and wallets to the same high standards as their boots. These products are handmade, causing slight variance between products that creates a uniqueness that does not sacrifice quality. All this is done in Sub-Saharan Africa by local employees.
So, what’s the difference between this shoe factory in Africa and shoe factories in other developing countries? Oliberté ensures its employees are paid fair, livable wages. They believe that through the creation of strong partnerships, communities in Africa will be empowered to develop and support themselves. This starts with how the company treats their employees, but also includes how the company goes about the sourcing of its raw materials.
The materials that are used to create Oliberté handmade boots and footwear are sourced locally as much as possible. From the local cows and tanneries that create a shoe’s upper, to the African rubber and machinery that create its foundation, local products create local jobs and reduce the environmental footprint of transportation. All these factors add up to create greater social, environmental, and economic stability and have also helped get Oliberté recognized for its ethical business practices.
Thanks to all these practices, Oliberté’s factory has become the first factory in the world to be certified as a Fair Trade Factory and has also allowed the company to become a Certified B Corporation (Benefit Corporation). So when Oliberté says they are acting with social and environmental motivations, you know this has been verified by a third party source and can be trusted.
We’re proud to welcome Oliberté to the Appalachian Outdoors family. Not only are they a company with lofty ethical goals, but they create extremely comfortable, casual shoes. It’s tough to accurately describe the comfort of a pair of Olibertés, so you’ll have to come in and try a pair for yourself.