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Jeans gone green

Kristy Kurjan - April 18th, 2011
Jeans Gone Green: Eco-Friendly Footwear
By: Kristy Kurjan
“Good for the earth- Good for your sole,” is Jeans Gone Green’s motto.
Keeping denim out of landfills through stylish sandals is the idea behind
the local sandal company. Founded April 2009 by Jen Lett, Adam Lett and
Mike Kittendorf, Jeans Gone Green provides eco-friendly footwear. The
hand-crafted sandals are known for their comfort as well as their
innovative way of turning rescued denim into fashionable flip-flops and
shoe bags.
The company’s recycling efforts start at a local level. Denim is first
collected through charitable non-profit organizations including the
Women’s Resource Center and Salvation Army. The re-purposed materials are
then sent off to be prepared and cut down to size by Grand Traverse
Industries, a Northern Michigan company employing individuals with
development disabilities. Jeans Gone Green goes one step further by giving
unused scraps back to Good Will Industries for further recycling.
One of Jeans Gone Green’s largest earth friendly efforts is keeping
production in the United States, specifically in Northern Michigan. The
products are hand-crafted by a “team of moms,” who are responsible for
much of the unique artisan work that goes into the shoes. This production
method works well for both employer and the eleven moms who appreciate the
flexible work schedule. “We would not be doing what we do without the team
of mom’s- everyone has their own talent,” says Lett.
Even the “shoe box” is earth friendly. Unlike mainstream shoe companies,
Jeans Gone Green doesn’t use cardboard shoe boxes. Instead, they developed
their own eco-conscious shoe bags to store the product. Their patent
pending design re-purposes the leg of a pair of jeans, pockets and straps
to create a unique shoe bag for storage. With each in-store purchase the
customer is able to choose their own unique shoe bag. Helping to save the
planet one bag at a time!
In addition to being eco- conscious, the sandals are exceptionally
comfortable, Lett explains. The eva sole is made out of a cushiony
memory-like foam which is soft yet provides excellent arch support. The
outer sole is made from recycled rubber pavement parts. “Our customers
live in the shoes all day and into the evening,” explains Lett. “They are
resort casual so you can dress them up or down.”
The flip-flops are available in various colors, embellished with Swarovski
crystals, and embroidered. The “original” design is denim with multi
colored crystals while other option include black denim and multi-colored
stitched themes. A speciality white pair is popular for brides and their
wedding parties. The sandals are offered in women’s adult sizes 6 to 10
and retail for $72. Each pair is hand-made and unique all the way down to
the denim tabs on the back of the shoe.
The sandals are sold in high-end boutiques like Heart N’ Sole in Harbor
Springs and What to Wear in Traverse City/Elk Rapids. They can also be
found in stores across the United States including stores in Florida,
Texas and New York. “They are for fashionable females who want to be
comfortable, cute and practical,” says Lett. “We are also pretty popular
with the tween crowd. “
How did the company first get its start? “After economic cut backs, I was
left to find something else to do. I started showing my denim sandals to
people, got reactions, made prototypes and then it took off from there,”
says Lett, previously in IT recruiting and a teacher. “I feel like it was
a blessing because it gave me the push to try. I thought, ‘wow, if I don’t
do it now I probably never will.’ Everything happens for a reason.”
The next step for the growing company is towards charitable efforts. Their
newest shoe is dedicated to the fight against breast cancer featuring a
pink embroidered ribbon. Twenty percent of the sales of this shoe will go
to support cancer research. The company also participates in area
fundraisers. For example, they are creating orange and black flip-flops to
be sold in support of the Elk Rapid’s school district with proceeds given
back to the school. “I’m a big believer in when you give back, what comes
around goes around,” says Lett.
For Jeans Gone Green the future looks bright. Lett explains the company’s
process in relation to a roller coaster; “We have been climbing the hill
for a longtime and are starting to have a view!”

Check out www.JeansGoneGreen.com






 
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