As a college student Zak took some time off to live in Peru. During his time in Lima, Zak worked for a nonprofit helping at-risk children discover their purpose through surfing and relationships. Zak began to notice that a lot of kids had similar stories. Parents did not have the economic means to provide for their children. Zak wanted to do more than just help the kids, he wanted to address the systemic problem of unemployed parents and give them the tools to be able to provide for their family. Zak came back to school inspired to pursue community development.
A few years later Zak returned to Peru in collaboration with REBBL and Not for Sale to produce Upstream, a video raising awareness of human trafficking and encouraging change makers to work “upstream” to provide communities with tools and resources for economic growth. During this journey, Zak discovered these communities had an abundance of resources. Resources such as rubber and cotton that are natural, sustainable, and have economic value. Zak was baffled by the thought of an abundance of resources and so much poverty.
Zak and his co-founders decided to create an all natural shoe allowing them to source materials from these communities and spark economic growth. Eight months ago, Zak and his co-founders launched a Kickstarter for Z Shoes Organic. They surpassed the $50,000 goal and were able to create a supportive network. Since the successful Kickstarter Z Shoes Organic has focused on giving back and creating relationships rather than just business transactions. By ethically sourcing their materials Z Shoes is providing communities in Peru providing fair wages, steady income, and economic stability. As the demand for Z Shoes increases more opportunities will arise for these community members allowing them to keep consistent employment while supporting their children. To increase their impact 2.5% of Z Shoes’ revenue is donated to Not for Sale, a nonprofit focusing on community development. Not for Sale uses these funds to invest in the community focusing on areas such as education and healthcare.
Z Shoes is spreading the word about their ethical product through their concert series. Z Shoes teams up with various artists to design and sell shoes to fans. Fans are able to purchase the shoes and wear them as their “ticket” to get into the concert. Z Shoes has currently hosted two concerts in California, but plan to expand into events in a variety of locations. Recently the team partnered with the UN to create a shoe for the women’s march.
While I was chatting with Zak he mentioned that he was a political science major in college and how this has helped him understand the community he is working with. This is one of the many aspects I really appreciate about Z Shoes is that this team understand the politics behind the issues and are addressing them with systematic knowledge, not just simply out of compassion. I think understanding the root cause of an issue and how the politics of a certain community function can really make or break the impact of a social enterprise. I truly believe in Z Shoes and am excited to watch them grow and expand.
My new Z Shoes are my go-to tennis shoes! They are incredibly comfortable and go with a variety of outfits. These shoes are well made and I feel confident wearing them knowing that the materials were ethically sourced and employees were fairly paid. I encourage you to check out Z Shoes Organic! See if they are hosting an event near you or order a pair online!