March 30, 2016

MADE-BY spoke with VIVOBAREFOOT’s founder, Galahad Clark, and operations director, Damian Peat, to understand the drivers behind their decision to sign up to MODE Tracker.


Why is transparency important to VIVOBAREFOOT?
We see transparency as part of being able to explain the work that goes into making our shoes, and in our own way, how we are trying to change the world a little bit. And that’s really important to us.

What led you to sign up to MODE Tracker?
We have always tried to have tools to guide our sustainability decisions. We created an in house ‘eco-matrix’ which we use to rate our products on their sustainability. However, this was self-judged and was never externally verified. We then saw a demonstration of MODE Tracker at your annual event. It brought everything together and made a great communication tool, helping us to present fact based communication to both those within our business and our consumers. It showed what we are doing, the processes we are going through and the change we are looking for.

How has MODE Tracker helped you so far?
MODE Tracker has forced us to look at every area of our business in detail to a level that we’ve never looked at before. We have discovered that, in the last six months, we have let some of our disciplines slip somewhat through focussing on the health aspects of barefoot shoes more than other areas of sustainability. But it means a great deal to us and is at the heart of why we started in business.
Creating barefoot shoes may sound a simple process, but it isn’t. The softer and more flexible you make the shoe, the harder it is for the factory to produce. We were focussing more on the durability and sourcing of the materials, which arguably is a sustainable thing to do. MODE Tracker means a lot in terms of just ‘getting back on it’ and being able to be genuinely proud and honest about what we’re doing.

We have a dedicated team in China and visit our factories almost daily, but we were struggling to document the processes and checks we go through. The clear feedback from the verification reports has really helped in formalising and tracking these processes.”

What did you discover going through this process?
We’ve learned so much through this process, and we believe the whole point is to continue to do so. That being said, it was not without its challenges. One such challenge we faced the ‘people cube’. We have a dedicated team in China and visit our factories almost daily, but we were struggling to document the processes and checks we go through. The clear feedback from the verification reports has really helped in formalising and tracking these processes.
Resources were also a challenge for us. We’re a small team of 20 people and don’t have a dedicated CSR department. Being able to take a step by step approach in selecting your cubes makes the process more manageable for a small brand like us.

What are your next steps?
The main thing for us will be building MODE Tracker into the organisation and getting it more engrained within the company, ensuring that all teams from sales, production and marketing really understand it. This way, every decision we make and process we put in place is informed by MODE Tracker.

See VIVOBAREFOOT’s MODE Tracker scorecard here: vivobarefoot.modetracker.org

Tags: interview, MODE Tracker, vivobarefoot.