Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in footwear but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Christal Earle, founder and CEO of Brave Soles, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Brave Soles believes in the power of sustainable fashion to build a better future for all of us. I launched in 2017, and we are focused on creating fashion with upcycled materials and ethical, small-scale production. Our handcrafted shoes have up-cycled tire soles. All accessories are crafted from reclaimed leather from aircraft seats and other sources.

We recognize that finding a beautiful fashion that's kind to both people AND the planet can be difficult and expensive. We're helping to create a better future for both - at a fair price.

We want our customers and fans to love their choices and proudly share the story behind what they own.

Tell us about yourself

I have been a lifelong social entrepreneur. I was first introduced to landfill workers in vulnerable parts of the world in 2005 while helping to lead the Canadian youth charity I had co-founded called Live Different. What started out as a passion for social equality has grown into a love for people and the planet.

In 2017, I launched Brave Soles with $250, working with local artisans in the Dominican Republic. Through research and local partnerships, I discovered that a fashion business model focused on good work, responsible production, and within reach of average consumers could help inspire and create meaningful change.

Brave Soles creates handcrafted shoes with upcycled tire soles and is focused on providing opportunities for their customers and fans to love the story behind what they own. Discarded tires and other usable materials fill landfills, ditches, and waterways around the world. They are biohazardous, and they pose significant health risks. Yet materials such as tires, deadstock fabrics, and leathers present endless opportunities for circular fashion designs.

Through a simple and scalable process, Brave Soles is creating fashion that is kind to both people and the planet - and built on a circular economy. Since we launched, we have upcycled more than 2600 large truck tires. This has helped to divert those waste tires from waterways and landfills and put them back into circulation in a new and safe form. We hope to have this goal reach 10,000 tires by 2023.

Every day, I get up and think about reminding myself that big doors turn on small hinges. Through my work with Brave Soles and the other work that I do (I am also a speaker and coach), I seek to inspire people to think about the power of their choices, one by one.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I launched Brave Soles with $250. I was a single mom, living between two countries for ten years, trying to get my adopted daughter to Canada (Since 2009, we were denied a visa for her until March of 2020). During that time, I faced extreme financial strain, loss, and deep personal growth. I knew that the only way something would change was if I made a move. I have made many missteps along the way, learned innumerable difficult lessons, and built the most fulfilling life through it all. I can look back and know that no matter what I come through, I did it. I took the leap, and I am part of a global tribe of people who are getting up every day and deciding that they want to help create a better future through their work. That feels really good.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

For me, one of the challenges is disciplining myself to sit down and do the tasks that I don't enjoy, but that at the current time, I am the only one that can do them. Those tasks are vital for my business, and those details matter.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Don't wait until it's perfect; just do it. Make the minimum viable product that you can and just get it out there. If you wait for it to be perfect, it will never happen. Everyone will have an opinion on what you should do, so take it all with a grain of salt and just keep getting better. It's not personal. It's a process - and that's liberating.
  2. Find your tribe. There is no one who can do it alone, and there is no need to. If your business is going to succeed, you need to surround yourself with people who can help you get there. Reach out to local organizations, find out what companies like yours are connected to, and put yourself out there.
  3. Get a mentor, a coach, an advisor, or all three. You need to have someone who can call you out on the things you may be too scared to call yourself out on. Never, ever be afraid to ask for help. There are those that have gone before you that actually want to help you. There is a wealth of wisdom around you, so don't be scared to ask.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

The most important story you will ever tell is the one you tell yourself about who you are and what you are capable of bringing to the world.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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