As part of our founder interview series, we talk with John Pramgårds about running an ethical company with his wife, Milena, and their dedication to giving back.
What inspired you to first create Resole?
We love running projects and companies and wanted to do something no one had done before. We got inspired by loads of other up-cycling and ethical companies. To create a product that so many people like is really exciting and inspiring.
By using up-cycled materials for Resole shoes, you are able to give new life to what would otherwise be discarded. Did you always know you wanted to use reclaimed material, and how did you decide on old bus and train seats for your shoes?
Yes, we knew we wanted to create something with as little bad impact on Mother Nature as possible. To help the environment and make a business out of it is amazing. We looked at various materials and we found out that there are lots of cool motifs on buses and trains. In addition, the textiles are very resistant, perfect for sneakers!
Is there any other type of waste you wish you could find a way to up-cycle?
We are constantly thinking of new ways and materials that we would be able to up-cycle. Focusing on textiles, there is a lot that gets wasted every year, not only bus and train seats of course! We have also tried to make rugs out of the leftover textiles from our production. Re-using wasted waste
A portion of all of Resole profits are donated to environmentally friendly projects. Which projects have you supported in the past, and how do you choose them?
We have been supporting a Swedish organisation called "Vi Skogen". They plant threes in Africa to keep vegetation alive. We met the organization at a fair in Sweden and liked what we heard. They also frequently update their webpage about their various projects.
All Resole bags are handmade by women who have immigrated to Sweden. Can you tell us more about this initiative, and why you chose to do this?
A lot of people have immigrated to Sweden in the last few years. Sweden is among the top countries when it comes to welcoming new people to the country, but unfortunately there are not enough jobs or housing for all of these people. "Yallatrappan" is an organization in our hometown, Malmo, that has employed immigrant women who were previously making handicrafts in their home countries. They take on small or big projects from various businesses. We think it is lovely that we can help these women make a living in Sweden!
How do you monitor your supply chain to ensure ethical production throughout the Resole life cycle?
We visit our producers in Portugal and our other stakeholders in Sweden to make sure that they live up to the right ethical standards. When it comes to ourselves, we try to translate our basic values into our business. This includes equal rights, no matter ethical background or gender. We also partner with local projects that support our values. For example, we sent 10 pairs of Resole sneakers to people in need in Lesbos, Greece, by partnering with a Swedish organization.
What does ‘Ethical Fashion’ mean to you?
Ethical Fashion in our view is, for example, when the workers in a manufactory are working in good conditions. Safety should be essential, normal working hours, decent salary and child labour is a NO NO in our world. We believe that this is important throughout the distribution chain. The last cent made is not worth it if you don't follow your ethical standards.
What do you see as the greatest barrier preventing higher ethical standards for the textile and fashion industry?
The greatest barrier is definitely pricing. There will always be companies making money on cheap products made by children, sadly!
Resole won the first prize at the Malmö business fair in the category of Environment and Sustainability. What do you think other businesses could learn from you?
Yes, we did and that is something we are very proud of. Think outside the box. With a strong will and loads of creativity you can make a lot of cool things. Even sneakers out of bus seats! Then of course, it is important to communicate your ideas in the right channels.
Resole is a family run business, which surely has some benefits and challenges. How does working as a family impact Resole?
We are three people in our family. Our 3-month old boy Leyton smiles if he likes our latest prototype. It helps us a lot when making new models. As for the rest of the family we have quite clear rolls when it comes to Resole. The greatest benefit is that we can decide over the dinner table or during breakfast what the next step for Resole will be. Quick decisions!