The brainchild of Shriyans Bhandari and Ramesh Dhami, Greensole is a company that refurbishes old shoes into comfortable footwear and donates them to thousands of underprivileged children. The idea behind Greensole was born out of a problem that Shriyans and Ramesh faced as athletes, as they ran together in Mumbai. “We used to discard about 3 to 4 pair of rather expensive running shoes each year which led them to realise that while the upper part of the shoes suffered from wear and tear, the lower part of the shoes, that is the sole, was sometimes intact and in good condition” says Shriyans while recalling how the venture took birth. After ideating and researching about the ways in which these soles could be re-used, Shriyans and Ramesh came up with the brilliant idea of refurbishing the soles to create new footwear and thus began the journey of Greensole in December 2013. “After realising that there were thousands of children in India that did not have suitable footwear could afford them, our initiative gained momentum and we began supplying refurbished footwear to those in need while giving back to nature as well, since the most of the discarded footwear tend to be non-biodegradable and their re-utilisation helps in lessening pollution”.
Today, Greensole, which is a successful culmination of social, economic and environment-friendly potential, is an initiative that has been recognised and appreciated by the likes of Barack Obama and Forbes Asia 30 under 30. While the successes of the company are many, the people behind this initiative have also faced a few challenges. Shriyans began this venture while he was 19 and still in college. Since the beginning of every venture requires twice the effort, “ I think the initial days of Greensole were both tough and memorable as I used to rush to the factory after college to manage the production” recalls Shriyans. Today, the company has really fine-tuned their production process. They take old shoes, pull it apart, use the sole as the base for new footwear, the upper material to make straps for the slippers and other nature-friendly material to finish the refurbished product. In 2013 itself, Ram Fashion Exports helped in setting up the company by providing them warehouse space and has since been a very important benefactor for the company. Their designer, Yash Pratap, takes care of the overall design aspect of the products while taking in suggestions from Shriyans and Ramesh regarding the kind of material that should be used.
“We are continually supported by other NGOs that provide us with information regarding the various areas that are in need of their help” say the founders of this remarkable venture. With nation-wide collection drives and donation drives, Greensole is primarily a social venture as of now, but the founders are looking forward and working towards taking the company a step further. They are now venturing into retail, in hope of making the brand accessible to everyone at cost alongside brands like Adidas, Nike et cetera. They are aiming at making Greensole a national retail brand in the coming few years and then elevating it to become a global brand. With more than a dozen corporate partners and more than 50,000 donated pairs of refurbished shoes, Greensole is an initiative that produces products that are a perfect blend of fashion, especially footwear design and economic and ecological sustainability.
TEXT Nidhi Verma