Christal Earle: Reinventing The Wheel

By turning used tires into footwear and fashion accessories, Brave Soles has become a brand founded on innovation, sustainability and philanthropy.

To many Canadians, the Dominican Republic is renowned for being an affordable destination spot to escape the cold. There’s nothing better than relaxing on a beautiful beach and enjoying the amenities of an all-inclusive resort. But what we may forget about or even be unaware of is what goes on beyond the travel and tourism aspect of the country — the majority of citizens in the Dominican Republic are severely poor.

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But one Canadian, Christal Earle, and her company, Brave Soles, are making a positive impact through humanitarian and environmental work — by using fashion. Brave Soles is a fashion company that reuses old rubber tires and unused plane parts to create its sandal and accessory lines. The company’s head office is in Toronto, but its manufacturing plant is in the Dominican Republic. The inspiration behind creating Earle’s company is one of wanting to make a difference. When Earle was in the Dominican Republic working with another organization, she came across a large landfill of used tires. After learning more about the harmful effects that tires create for our planet, she came up with the idea to transform the old rubber tires into a fashion line. Through Earle’s research and previous experience doing charitable work in the Dominican Republic, she found out that the landfill of tires was a breeding ground for mosquitoes carrying deadly diseases. And let’s not forget that tires are a toxic nightmare when set on fire.

“There’s no difference between my life and the ones of my employees; they’re both equally valuable”

By taking that entrepreneurial knowledge into account and combining it with her many years of humanitarian work, Earle has created a company that not only helps the environment in the Dominican Republic, but has also created fair-paying jobs for locals, providing a clean and safe work environment complete with vacation time for workers. And she started all this with only the income she had at the time — $250. “Most of these companies think from the top to the bottom and really don’t appreciate the people working for them. As a leader, I really encourage my employees to negotiate with us and tell us what they need, whether it be more vacation time or materials,” says Earle. “We negotiate as two people who both realize everyone’s self-worth to the overall success of the company. And there’s no difference between my life and the ones of my employees; they’re both equally valuable.”

On top of all of this, Earle is also a mother to her adopted daughter, Widlene. Knowing the young girl’s mother before she passed away, Earle took on a huge role of becoming a mom to this young, innocent child. “When I first became a mom, there was no romantic transition time. When my daughter came into my life she was four, and we didn’t speak the same language. I was also in a marriage that was in crisis, and I didn’t have any confidence. I didn’t have that nine-month period to get myself emotionally ready. I woke up one morning and I was a mom. But nothing compares to having a family, and having a family of your own is beautiful.” Female entrepreneur, humanitarian, environmentalist and mom: these are all titles that Earle holds. But her true title should be Wonder Woman. Christal Earle is just another hard-working Canadian doing good acts in a foreign country. Her work should not only be recognized, but also greatly applauded.

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Nickolas Lombardi

Nickolas Lombardi