We spoke with Sven Segal (absolutely adorable, but we always fall for a guy with an accent), founder of Po-Zu, in London UK. Po-Zu is a line of biodegradable coconut footwear that is healthy for your feet, safe for the workers, and kind on the environment. Here are his thoughts on treading on coconuts instead of people, how he Po-Zu’s, and eating shoe polish.
What came first, eco or footwear?
I haven’t yet seen evidence that microbes have ever worn footwear, and so my assumption would be eco. But if you meant what came first personally for myself then the answer is footwear. (ha ha, Sven)
You have a video called “Don’t Tread On People – Tread On Coconuts!” What does this mean?
We wanted to raise awareness that consumers can make a conscious choice by questioning if the product they wish to buy has in any way exploited other people throughout the production process.
Our coconut-husk based shoes are ethically produced, and the workers throughout our supply chain benefit from handling safe non-toxic materials, working in better conditions and receiving a fair living wage.
Your shoe cream is totally edible. Do you yourself then spread it on toast?
Personally, I find it a little bland on toast, though it’s quite nice on savory crispy crackers, and fantastic for baking and cooking as a substitute for oil if you like a hint of coconut. (See Sven indulging in picture above)
With so many charities doing amazing and meaningful environmental work, how did you decide which ones to give to?
We wanted to give our customers a choice of which environmental charity they would rather us donate to on their behalf (3% of the total sale) and so we have initially selected three charities, which have different directions to provide better variety; PAN are specifically working on eliminating toxic pesticides which is not only a big problem in the food industry but also in fashion. EJF helps communities who suffer most from environmental abuses, while WLT mainly work with nature conservation. (we love this, don’t you?)
Since Po-Zu means “pause” in Japanese, how often do you take time to pause, and what do you do?
It sounds like ‘pause’ should be my mantra, but it’s never often enough. I guess my work is about providing the ‘pause’ experience to other people through our ridiculously comfortable shoes, and so being engaged in this processes of perfecting this experience for others doesn’t leave me much free time for myself. But hey, isn’t this the classic story of the cobbler goes barefoot? When I do occasionally take some time out I love walks in nature, camping, cycling, and yoga.
For more information on how you can tread on your very own pair of coconut shoes, check them out online (Lisa has these and swears that they are the most comfy boots she’s ever worn). Follow their updates @SvenSegal and @Po_Zu and like them on Facebook too!