The Sustainable Strides of Baabuk’s Wool Shoes with Alex Miller

Join us as we dive into the world of ethical manufacturing and digital strategy. Our guest, Alex Miller, serves as the head of digital strategy and e-commerce for Baabuk, a Swiss footwear brand famous for their wool-based products. Alex is here to share the unique story of Baabuk – from its commitment to transparency and ethical manufacturing to its innovative use of wool and its transition into a B Corp.

Baabuk’s choice of wool as a primary material may seem unusual, yet the benefits are remarkable! Wool is incredibly durable, naturally antibacterial, and temperature-regulating. Yet, as Alex points out, this choice does present challenges from a cost perspective and with respect to customer return rates. But the challenges don’t end there. Alex also walks us through Baabuk’s unique recycling program in Europe, the collaborative relationship with their retail partners in their sustainability efforts, and the importance of cultivating personal relationships with suppliers. It’s a complex, but rewarding, business model that sets Baabuk apart in the industry.

The conversation takes an inspiring turn as Alex delves into Baabuk’s journey to becoming a B Corp in 2017. This transition was a testament to Baabuk’s commitment to using business as a force for good. Alex paints a vivid picture of the collaborative environment within the Swiss B Corp community and the rising demand for transparency and authenticity among Swiss consumers. With a focus on ethical manufacturing and digital strategy, Baabuk not only excels in creating extraordinary wool-based products like their signature Black Nose Sheep wool sneakers but also in reshaping the business landscape in a more sustainable and responsible way. Join us for this fascinating exploration of Baabuk’s journey and learn how the brand is making a difference one woolen shoe at a time.

Baabuk’s Website
Resale marketplace
Baabuk’s Black Nose Sheep Shoe


Read AI Generated Transcript Below

Alex Miller: The biggest thing that we can do outside of Nepal, where we don’t own our workshops, we don’t own the facilities, is creating partnerships, creating real relationships, not just going on Alibaba or a website to pre-purchase something that’s made and put our logo on it. Our production lifecycle of R&D is long because our team will go to Portugal to meet with different suppliers, different factories, because we want to have that personal relationship where we can get on the phone, directly call the owner, directly call the managers, and talk about what’s happening, talk about all of the components that are going in, what’s changing, and how we can have additional transparency into the process.
Brittany Angelo: Welcome to impact chats, a responsibly different podcast sharing conversations with industry leaders leveraging business as a force for good. Welcome everyone to Responsibly Difference Impact Chats. Today, our guest is Alex Miller, the head of digital strategy and e-commerce for Babook. Babook is a Swiss footwear brand specializing in wool sneakers, slippers, and accessories. Becoming B Corp certified in 2017, Alex joined their team shortly after in April of 2018. The company spans across three continents, and Alex is their only employee in the United States. And I thought my job was remote. A lot of Alex’s day-to-day is overseeing all the international direct-to-consumer sales and marketing channels, developing and managing the growth of the D2C e-commerce business, and strategizing, implementing, and reviewing digital marketing campaigns. With Babouk’s commitment to transparency, I wanted to connect with Alex to learn more about their manufacturing process and to understand how they conduct their business with such high ethical standards. I guess you’ll have to listen to the episode to learn the answer to that one. Also, some tidbits I learned while spending time on their site. Babook hires more women than men in their facilities. The company also guarantees that no children work in the facility. Did you know that that’s one of the more common problems in the footwear industry? And listen all the way through as Alex shares more than you probably ever thought you wanted to learn about sheep as Babook’s products are made from wool. Why wool? Well, let’s get into the episode so you can learn that answer as well. Hope you enjoy. Welcome, Alex, to Responsibly Different. We are so excited to have you here. I think you’re going to be able to tell our listeners quite a bit of background about stuff that we maybe haven’t ever had or heard about on the podcast before. So thanks for being here.

Alex Miller: Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me.

Brittany Angelo: Yeah, well, let’s dive straight in. And I would love for you to maybe share a little bit about your background, you as a person, because our jobs do not make who we are. But then if you don’t mind, dig into a little bit about your role as head of digital strategy and e-commerce at Babook.

Alex Miller: Yeah, so my background’s, you know, a little all over the place. My degree is in philosophy, you know, natural progression into digital strategy and e-commerce. That’s Socrates, big e-commerce guy. Yeah. So yeah, I’ve worked in startups, even pre college days, starting my own businesses, working with some others, and really got into kind of the digital strategy and the consulting role earlier on, and worked in a wide variety of industries, everything from industrial machinery to legal to had a cigar company at one point. And now, again, of course, natural progression in basic next step that you take. Right. Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun. So yeah, I’ve been with Beboop now for almost six years. So in my role with them, I oversee all of our e-commerce sales and marketing channels, and basically the brand’s entire digital presence. So we sell in several international markets. We’re based in Switzerland, so that’s our largest. And then of course, in the US, UK, most of EU, And then we have growing markets in regions like New Zealand and Australia. So I, along with the rest of the team at Babook, help share that brand message throughout all of our markets, all of our channels, with the goal of, of course, growing and expanding to reach new audiences.

Brittany Angelo: So I’m pretty sure there was nowhere that you didn’t mention that you all touch. But can you just share a little bit more about the company’s size and maybe where are the employees based? Are you all fully remote? That feels like a silly question. You’re clearly all remote.

Alex Miller: Yeah. So we’re a small but mighty team for sure. Internally, not including our manufacturing arm, we are seven people. really spread out all over. So the main office is in Switzerland, we do actually have a physical office. But that’s, it’s home to usually about half of the team. Right now, it’s actually less than that, because the co-founders Dan and Galena are on a trip around the world with their daughters, kind of showing them a bunch of different cultures. So right now they’re in New Zealand. They’ve been been there for the longest time. We’re not quite sure if we’re going to get them back. But so yeah, they’re definitely fully remote, remote first before that was even really a trendy thing to do. So right outside of Switzerland, the rest of us are really spread out, mostly in Europe. I’m the only stateside team member we have. We have members in France and Spain. And then also our slipper manufacturing arm, which is a core part of our team. They’re fully based in Nepal.

Brittany Angelo: Okay, well, we’ll save the the remote talk for maybe another time. But yeah, what a what a world we live in where we don’t physically see all of our coworkers. Yep. All right. So let’s dive into your product. And I gotta say, I’m so curious. Why wool?

Alex Miller: So wool is truly a miracle fiber. It’s been used for tens of thousands of years, even the inspiration for the product that we have is from the Velenky boot, which is a long, like knee-high, basically 100% wool, giant slipper basically, that was used in Siberia in, you know, like well below zero, just keeps you warm. So that was the original inspiration actually for the company of Babuk, but wool itself, it’s durable, it’s naturally antibacterial, water repellent, temperature regulating. So as opposed to what a lot of people think, when you think of wool, think of those old sailor sweaters that are great in the winter. Wool is great in the winter, but it’s also good in the summer because it doesn’t warm you up. It just keeps the temperature regulated. There’s a lot of air gaps in the fibers that keep cold out, but also keeps heat out. So basically it keeps your body temperature. So, When you use wool in footwear, it carries all of those natural benefits into the shoe. And when you’re using synthetics, you either just don’t have those benefits or they have to be added in with a really unsustainable process or unsustainable materials, which of course is not great. And then with that, it’s super durable. So wool as a fiber can be bent about 10,000 times depending on the the specific fiber, sometimes like even 10x that. But it can be bent about 10,000 times before it breaks. Cotton has a few thousand bends in it. And then most synthetic fibers, you’re lucky if you get a few hundred. Some like really cheap ones that are used in fast fashion, you’re talking like dozens of bends before that breaks. So the longevity is just much, much higher than what you have with a lot of synthetics. But of course, it’s that often, you don’t often see wool shoes has grown in previous years, but it’s still not a very common material. And that’s largely due to cost. It’s a lot more expensive than synthetic fibers are. So with that extra expense, you’re either going to force brands to increase their prices or decrease margins. Brands want to do either of that. So it’s become a challenge. And then the other side of it with the durability is you also from a financial side, It’s actually not great for a company to use wool because it reduces the lifetime value of the customer. Generally speaking, a lot of brands aim for like a six month lifespan of footwear. So that way you have at least two purchases per year. With wool, most of our average time in between sneaker purchases is several years. But because they just they’re not breaking down. So we try to, we offer slippers, we offer accessories. And so we give our customers an ability to continue supporting the brand, but we don’t want them to come back every six months needing a new pair of sneakers. So that durability side for a lot of brands and synthetics, it just doesn’t really fit with their business model.

Brittany Angelo: Mm. Yeah, that is such an interesting topic you bring up in the sense of you need consumers to buy the product to keep you all afloat and to keep you moving forward. And we’ll dive into kind of like the sustainability mindset of of your company and your product. But it’s so interesting. That’s like you want people to support you, but not support you too much, because then that’s just overconsumption. And that’s not the point. Yeah. So interesting concept. Yeah.

Alex Miller: Yeah, it’s it’s really challenging, especially as a B Corp, to it’s a balancing act, because you need consumers to purchase in order for a business to survive. But there’s also this kind of like, anti hyper consumerism, which, yeah, it’s a big balancing act that you have. And so by creating durable products and creating additional products that people can actually use that are, you know, help support the brand, but are also in that durable usefulness. That’s where we try to move and expand to increase that customer lifetime value instead of just, you know, purchase the same product every few months.

Brittany Angelo: I gotta say, and this might be oversharing, but I have the world’s sweatiest feet. And I constantly am wearing slippers, even in the middle of the summer. Maybe that’s why my feet are sweating in the middle of summer. But it sounds like I’m hearing you say, my sweaty feet won’t sweat as much and your wool slippers.

Alex Miller: Not as much. We can’t make a no sweat promise. Can’t promise that. Uh, less. Um, and the biggest benefit is that when they inevitably do sweat, uh, wool is antibacterial. So the smell is just, you know, I’m not going to say it’s pleasant, but it’s not as bad as when it’s in synthetics.

Brittany Angelo: Okay. So mom and dad, you hear this. I need some slippers for, uh, for Christmas this year.

Alex Miller: And you get the replaceable insoles so when it starts to get a little too much you just slide a new one in there. It’s like a brand new slipper.

Brittany Angelo: Amazing, amazing. You all have thought of everything. Speaking of you all actually thinking of everything, I want to talk about your supply chain. When I look on your website, it’s so clear to me that you have this transparency and you have this responsibility where you all care about the planet and the people that you work with. from a manufacturing standpoint, and this is coming from somebody who really doesn’t know much about manufacturing, so bear with me and maybe educate me. But I read that you all try to control every step of your manufacturing process and that you take great responsibility for conducting your business with high ethical standards. And I’m wondering, how do you all feel confident saying that when everything I’ve heard about supply chains is scary and daunting and maybe like they’re hiding secrets within their supply chain. So can you talk to me about that?

Alex Miller: Yeah. So very first thing I’ll say is we are so far from perfect. There are parts of our supply chain that we are actively trying to learn more about. Within the past year, we hired a chief sustainability officer to specifically do this. Look into our partners, all of the little components of it, even, you know, the eyelets of the shoes, where the laces are coming from, because we do want that full transparency, but we are far from perfect, and we’ll be the first to admit that. But it is critically important for us. So authenticity, transparency, and responsibility are all core values to the brand. They’re not just marketing tactics like in some companies. So every decision that we’re making has to be considered through those lenses. So when it comes to products and materials, you know, simple things like we don’t like waste. We don’t like the aspect of waste with our material. So even on our slippers, with our slippers, we have so much additional transparency because we own and operate that entire facility in Nepal. It is, there’s no middlemen. It’s, we actually even like the machines were built by Dan, the co-founder. He went over to Nepal. built up this workshop, he built most of the machines. And so we hire the artisans there directly. So we have full oversight, which is great. And so even there, like, yeah, the little trimmings, when we cut a slipper, we cut the top, you want to make it flat and even tiny little trimmings that come off, like we don’t want to get rid of that because it’s good wool. So we use it as fillers for drying balls or sitting mats. And so just having that insight into what’s happening on the production side is it’s really important to us. Again, we, the biggest thing that we can do outside of Nepal, where we don’t own our workshops, we don’t own the facilities, is creating partnerships, creating real relationships, not just going on Alibaba or a website to pre purchase something that’s made and put our logo on it. Our production lifecycle of like R&D is incredibly long, because our team will go to Portugal to meet with different suppliers, different factories, because we want to have that personal relationship where we can get on the phone, directly call the owner, directly call the managers, and talk about what’s happening, talk about all of the components that are going in, what’s changing, and how we can have additional transparency into the process.

Brittany Angelo: Wow. I actually really am like, resonating with this story that you shared where you’re taking the extra fabric from the slippers and you’re turning it into dryer balls. That’s so smart.

Alex Miller: I love that. Of course, it’s a win-win for us. It’s less material that we have to purchase. It’s less we’re throwing out. And when it comes to the sitting mats, which was the original product that we had from all of this waste, we weren’t cutting it off for something specific. We were just Look, we cut it for something specific, but we weren’t saving it. We just had, like, bags and boxes of this in our workshop in Nepal. And so the sitting mats were the first ones that we actually used it for, and not to divert too much, but that’s also a really exciting and interesting story. It was our first manager in Nepal. At that workshop, he was great, and he oversaw, like, the early days of Babuk Slippers, and he wanted to go back to his village and start his own. wool workshop because he didn’t live near Kathmandu and wanted to go back to family in Nepal. Your village is your family. Basically, it’s a huge community focused place. So he wanted to go back and start his own wool factory. So we supported him in that not just by here’s a check, you know, go do your own thing. But basically being his first customer, he took that extra wool to develop the sitting mats and was able to sell it back to Babu. And so now we kind of have an additional partnership and he’s gone on to create that facility. And it’s not just for Babook. He has his own customers now. So real entrepreneurial spirit that we played a small role in, but it’s just, he took the skills from the facility and is now able to employ people directly from his village close to home.

Brittany Angelo: Hmm. I got to ask in case if anybody is listening and thinking the same thing I’m thinking, but what are sitting mats?

Alex Miller: Sitting mats are, they’re, round like cushions that you can put on top of a stool or on that hard wooden chair in like cafes and things like that. So yeah, just a nice cozy little cushion to sit on.

Brittany Angelo: Fascinating. It’s exactly what it sounds like it is. Okay. Okay, so then I kind of want to talk about this recent launch that you all had of your recycling program. Correct me if I’m wrong, but a little bit of maybe what I saw on your website was that it’s not actually available in the States. So I won’t get too excited about it. But can you tell our listeners, what is the recycling program that you all have launched? Where is it? And then maybe, I guess I’m thinking like, in the in the realm of like, we’re B Corps and we all love sharing best practices. What have you learned? What has Babouk learned from this program? And like, what would you share with somebody who maybe also is a product driven company that could also have a similar recycling program?

Alex Miller: Yeah, absolutely. So currently, yeah, our recycling program is only active in Europe. And we’re hoping to expand it to the US and other regions in the future. But the partner that we’re working with is based in Germany. So while we could offer to us customers, just the carbon footprint of shipping all of that back over and doing all that, it doesn’t add up to the goal that we’re aiming for. So we’re looking for partners in the US and some of our other regions to do similar work. And hopefully we can expand these regional programs. But in in Europe, where we have it working right now, it’s another one of those win win opportunities. Our customers send in their well used They get a rebate for their next purchase, so they get a brand new pair. And then our recycling partner receives the shoes. And based on the condition of them and a few other factors, there’s a few places that these shoes will go. Sometimes they’re donated if they still have some life left in them. Occasionally they’re sold through this partner, but most commonly they get disassembled and then we take that material. In our case, it’s wool and with most of our sneakers, a natural latex, and then we can repurpose that into new products, which of course lessens the demand on those new materials. So we’re still in the early stages. The response from our customers has been really promising. So again, we’re hoping to expand regionally. We also are trying to work with our retail partners, which are throughout Switzerland, Germany, a few other places in Europe as well. We’re trying to work with them to connect with Baboot customers through their retail facilities to have more recycling and even upcycling opportunities in partnerships with them. So it’s been a brand new space for us. We didn’t really know that much about the process of recycling, the process of collecting and processing. So there’s still a lot of learning to do. For brands that are interested, What we’ve learned is that so much of it comes down to the types of materials that are used. Because recyclers, companies that are disassembling and reusing materials, a lot of them are focusing on specific types of materials. And it really comes down to how easily they’re repurposed. So for us, wool and natural latex are relatively easy to repurpose. But brands working with synthetics or I don’t know that much about the cotton side of it or other fibers. So that’s really where it starts. It starts with what materials that you have and how it can then be either broken down and repurposed or the product itself could somehow have a second life.

Brittany Angelo: Right. And if I’m using your own words from earlier, you’re using wool as your product and you’re using wool because you can bend it multiple times and it’s easy and it won’t break down. So that’s why it’s so easy for you to recycle and make new shoes maybe with the same product.

Alex Miller: Yeah. And even after like the initial use of wool, wool is a great filler material for so many other things like insulation right now. Wool insulation is growing like crazy, especially in like van life communities. I just bought myself a camper van, so I’m really into this topic at the moment. Oh, I love that. So it’s great because, again, it’s natural. So you’re not putting fiberglass insulation next to where you’re sleeping in a closed, confined space. And that temperature regulation works great even when it’s super broken down. So you can use it for that. And also as fertilizer, wineries are adopting this. I didn’t just buy a winery, so this isn’t my next big pitch. Wineries are using wool or fertilizer along vines because it’s great once it breaks down, but it also helps protect against pests, most ground-based pests, and you can kind of use it instead of a lot of fertilizers and pesticides. So even outside of the initial usefulness of the fabric, the fibers themselves still contain a lot of usefulness in different lives afterwards.

Brittany Angelo: Okay. I’m fascinated. You are teaching me so much. But now, can I just say, I want to go hug a sheep.

Alex Miller: Absolutely. Yeah. And if you have to pick one, the black-nosed sheep, the Valley black-nosed sheep, they’re the most huggable. They’re like trademarked as the cutest sheep in the world.

Alex Miller: And they absolutely are for people here in the States. So they’re based in Switzerland. There’s like 15,000 of them in the world, but it’s a massively growing community. A few weeks ago, I was in New Jersey for the very first American Classic Valley Black Nose Sheep Show. That book is a big part of this process because we use the Swiss Valley black nose wool in some of our sneaker collections. It’s a very difficult wool to work with, but we use it. So a lot of the black nose fans and communities around the world really like the product. So we went to that show. these sheep 100% live up to it. They’re the cutest sheep in the world. They’re like big fluffy dogs. You got to look them up. They’re called black-nosed sheep. It’s, yeah, cutest sheep in the world.

Brittany Angelo: Okay, well, I’m based in New Hampshire, and if anybody listening knows where the closest black-nosed sheep farm is, let me know because now I have to do my research.

Alex Miller: Absolutely.

Brittany Angelo: Oh, so fun. Um, alright, so we’ve kind of well, you actually have mentioned it more than I have on the show. But um, you mentioned that you all are B Corp certified. So I want to dig into this. I guess I’m like, really kind of curious. What came first, the company and making your product? Or were you all B Corp value driven from the beginning? Or was it later down the process that you became a B Corp?

Alex Miller: Yeah, so we became a B Corp in 2017. was our first certification. The company started in 2013. So there was a period there prior to that. But those values haven’t changed at all. So the co-founders of the company, Dan and Galena, it’s a husband and wife team. And so it’s not that these are Babouk values, but it truly is their values. And that’s what kind of inspired and built around the rest of the company. So B Corp, we’re thrilled to be a part of B Corp. It kind of puts us on the hook for some of these things that we call our values. We have to follow through on these commitments. But they’ve been part of the ethos of the brand since the early days.

Brittany Angelo: Okay. And then for the like massive traveler inside of me that hasn’t been traveling a ton, I guess like with you all being based in Switzerland, what’s the B Corp community like in Switzerland?

Alex Miller: Yeah. So it’s definitely smaller. I just looked this up last night to make sure I had my numbers correct because it’s changing all the time. But as of last night, there are 379 registered B-corps in Switzerland. Babu is actually one of the top 25th in the longest continually rated B-corps in Switzerland. So there’s only 24 that have been rated longer than Babu.

Alex Miller: So Switzerland’s about 5% of global B Corps. And this may not be the best comparison, but if we look at it compared to the US on a per capita basis, Switzerland is five times higher than the US in B Corps per capita. So it’s certainly a strong market for B Corps. Again, 380 is not a massive number, but Switzerland only has about 8 million people population. So yeah, per capita, it’s definitely significant. And I didn’t have that much knowledge or involvement in the Swiss market prior to joining Pebluc. But there’s a few things I’ve learned in the past six years. And one of them is that the consumer audience in Switzerland really is demanding in terms of ESG goals. The US, we still have a bit of a problem with fast fashion. We’re getting better. Consumer education is getting better. Consumers are getting more demanding. And we’re kind of following a trend set by a lot of European markets as well, demanding this transparency. And in Switzerland, like, we should be really careful. And with the messaging that we’re putting out there to make sure that it’s clear, it’s transparent, it’s authentic. It’s our home base. So we want to be authentic with our community there. And it’s a consumer audience that really wants brands to use the B Corp phrase, like use business as a force for good. I think that’s fantastic. And it’s really helped us follow those commitments that are set by B Corp.

Brittany Angelo: And I feel like I’ve never gone across seas and connected with other B Corps. I know some people have, but I’m super curious to just know. I feel like here in the States, the community of B Corps are always sharing best practices. And even if you’re in the same industry, it’s like, I want to still help you. I want to still see you succeed, even if you’re technically my competitor. So I’m kind of wondering, do you think that in my world of B Corps, my very small U.S.-only based world. Well, Canada-based too, I will say. I will give Canada a shout out here. It is U.S. and Canada. Do you think that like that same common thread of like sharing best practices exists in the Swiss community?

Alex Miller: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. So the B Lab community in Switzerland, where basically all of this, all of the B Corps companies come together, Yeah, it’s very collaborative. We’ve done events, panels, a wide variety of group activities with B-Lab in Switzerland. And even just B-Lab in general is incredibly supportive of all of the B Corps underneath. But yeah, we may be competitors on paper at the end of the day. And of course, we want to have our market share. high sales and gain customers and all of that. But when you put the emphasis on using business as a force for good, you’re not just focused on your business. You’re focused on the overall community of what it is to be a business and where you want to see that go. So whether it’s leading by example or really working collaboratively with other B Corps, yeah, that idea of competition, it’s not cutthroat like it is. in a lot of other groups and communities. The networking that happens there and the collaboration, again, it feels very authentic. It really does feel like you’re aiming for good, not just for profits.

Brittany Angelo: I love that. I love talking to beekeepers at other companies. Okay, well then I guess kind of like my follow up or my last question for you maybe is, and I’ll let you choose, what’s the either tell me about the most unique product that Babook sells or tell me about your favorite product? And if it’s the same, then like bonus points.

Alex Miller: I’m going to go back to the Black Nose Sheep. Take a little journey a few minutes back to the Black Nose Sheep because just by the type of wool we’re using, it is the most unique product. So we initially launched with sneakers that are using this black nose wool. So in Switzerland, when these sheep are sheared once or twice per year, usually the wool is burned. It is a very thick fiber. It’s off the sheep already. We’re not burning sheep. It’s off the sheep. Usually it’s burned. Sometimes it’s discarded because it is so thick. It’s difficult to work with. And most of the traditional uses of wool. You can’t really use this wool for and the sheep are not raised for their wool or for their meat. They’re raised because they’re adorable. And they go to sheep shows. And it seems like a pretty good life to live for a sheep. But so yeah, we found a way to process this wool with our partners in Portugal and create fabric with it woven fabric. And we use that for our sneakers. So it’s like a snowy white sneaker and we put a black leather cap on the front to make it look similar to the iconic blacknose sheep. And because we’re really the only company that’s using that wool as apparel products, it’s super unique. And for the communities that like blacknose sheep or know about blacknose sheep, or even like every few weeks, Business Insider or some other publication will have a random video telling about blacknose sheep. People who see them, it is like, you immediately love this animal without ever having met one and you just want to hug and snuggle it. Um, our sneakers may not be as cute, but we’re getting pretty close with it. So, um, yeah, I love our black nose collection. I think it’s, it pays a lot of tribute to our home base in Switzerland. It’s fantastic working with the shepherds and farmers there in this community. Um, and it like underlines the whole kind of ethos of the brand of community focused, of course, wool focused, responsible sourcing, transparency, um, and fun products.

Brittany Angelo: Hmm. Okay, so I feel like I said that was the last question, but now I’m super curious. And this is just me not knowing anything about sheep shearing. Shearing a sheep doesn’t at all hurt it, right? You’re just giving it a haircut.

Alex Miller: When it’s done correctly.

Brittany Angelo: That’s true.

Alex Miller: Yeah. So the wool topic, especially in vegan communities, is really fascinating, I’ll say. Because there’s a lot of debates on whether or not you can use wool at all. So that comes from a long history of sheep not being treated well, as is true with a lot of livestock and a lot of other animals that are used for anything other than just the life of the animal. So when shearing’s done improperly, it can be really harmful to the animal. There’s a problem with mule sling, which cuts off pieces of the sheep’s skin through the process. it can be really traumatic for the sheep and painful. But when it’s done responsibly and with respect, it helps the sheep. If a sheep doesn’t get sheared, they can get massive. They just keep growing that wool. It’s not naturally coming off. And it can actually overheat the sheep. And without proper shearing, a sheep could die from that compacting that happened. It’s very important for sheep to get sheared, but again, it has to be done responsibly. That’s why, again, we have a lot of oversight in the partners we work with in Portugal, where most of, actually all of our sneaker wool, except for the Black Nose Collection, all of our other sneaker wool comes from sheep that live in the Sierra de Australia National Park in Portugal. They’re just free range sheep, and these shepherds that are like multi-generational shepherds go up, and it’s a heritage thing. It’s done in a way that’s respectful to the animal. And so, yeah, we want to have a lot of oversight because it’s an important topic. It’s definitely a hot topic in some communities about if wool is truly responsible and ethical. And, you know, again, we’ll be the first to say not all wool is, and that’s very unfortunate. And we try to do as much as we can to have that transparency into the process to ensure that the wool we’re using is responsible, is ethical, and is properly done for the care of the animal.

Brittany Angelo: Wow. Wow. Well, thank you for breaking that down for me and letting my curiosity run wild there for a second. Absolutely. Alex, was there anything else that you wanted to make sure that you kind of talked about with our listeners?

Alex Miller: Just the last thing I’ll say back to the recycling conversation. So yeah, for customers in the US, we don’t have that recycling program up yet. But what we have recently launched is our resale marketplace. This is kind of filling the gap in that space for shoes that still have some life left in them. So that’s only available in the US at the moment. But it’s an opportunity for both us as a brand and customers to sell some of those products that are either used or have some cosmetic damage or whatever. Of course, at discounted prices, but it allows us to keep that extra life in the shoe in a usable way. So that’s available to our U.S. customers, and hopefully that’s a bit of a gap fill until we fully launch our recycling program here.

Brittany Angelo: Very cool. Well, I will be sure to link to that in the show notes. So if anybody wants to check it out, maybe that’s where I’ll be getting my slippers for Christmas. Yeah. Well, thank you, Alex, so much. This was so fun and so educational.

Alex Miller: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for having us on.

Brittany Angelo: I am so excited to share that since my conversation with Alex, because I got so curious about sheep, I went and found myself a sheep. Now, I didn’t get that close enough to cuddle it, but I did pet the top of its head. And I thought that I was an animal person. Guess not. Thanks for listening to this episode of Impact Chats with Babouk. If you enjoyed this content, let us know. You can leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, or you can rate us on Spotify, or you could even email us at content at That’s D-I-R-I-G-O And share this episode with a friend that would help us out so much. We’re always looking for more guests to feature on the show as well. So if you think your company is doing something cool, reach out. We love hearing from our listeners. Okay, again, just really appreciate you being here and listening. Till next time, be responsibly different.