Picture yourself… anywhere.
We at Nomadic State of Mind believe that while it may not always be possible to take your physical body to new and exciting destinations, you certainly can find small doses of time to let your mind wander into un- known territories. Whether you fancy physical travel (time travel or within this dimension), sense expansion (ever tried an unfamiliar cuisine?) or going for a ride with google earth into the depths of the globe to discover a small town in the other hemisphere– you have tapped into your Nomadic State of Mind… Now, take a peek into ours. Nomadic State of Mind, a grassroots-style handmade sandal company founded by Chris Anderson, began its voyage in the late 90’s. In the early years we ran the business out of a 1969 VW bus, which also served as Chris’ summer home (what nature loving, outdoor sports enthusiast, raft guide with a music guided-soul didn’t spend some time in a VW bus?). While we have come a long way since the days of Chris in his van, our philosophy has stayed consistent– If it is done right in the beginning, it will last a long time. Today “We” are: Chris, Entropy Engineer; Dave (Chris’ Dad), Shipping Guru and Disciple of the NY Garment Industry; Lara-dropped out of corporate paint bucket and found a home here, and Kelly, Jeff, Ryan (your packing masters) a team of 17 rope artisans, and distributors around the globe..At the turn of the century (the last one), Chris was introduced to a small community in Nicaragua that had been through some tough times and was in need of reliable income. He taught a small group how to make sandals, believing in fair trade and ethical practices, and sticking to our philosophy– Do it right. In the beginning, the road navigating the Wild West of Nicaragua was long and bumpy with scattered thunderstorms and occasional rainbows. But with perseverance and inspiration from lots of happy feet wandering the planet, we have found a home there for over a decade. So from a van by the river, to international availability and distribution (we even opened a Nomadic State of Mind store in the country of Cyprus) we have continued to grow and “do it right”. Occasionally we let our imaginations take over, which has helped lead to an increased product line with the addition of various forms of rope art (using sandal scraps!), from handbags to water bottle carriers, to rugs and more.
What’s up with Nomadic State of Mind sandals?
– thanks for asking. Currently many our rope sandals are being made in a small out of work coffee farm in Nicaragua (the ones without the soles). In early 2002 Chris taught a small community how to make sandals in hope to produce a job for the community and create a flow of income, and have a lot of fun! Without a lot of fun-who wants a business? All of our artists are paid well, and our hopes are to grow the sandal business offering employment for more of the community. Although the cities are beginning to bustle in often forgot about Nicaragua, many jobs are difficult for people out in the country. Our sandal making process is time consuming, and after extensive training our sandal artists hand craft each sandal to perfection! We have been working with the same group of people since 2002 and have watched the economic improvements in our community. Buying a pair of sandals or any rope art directly affects the betterment of a small out of work community in Nicaragua. Through the years we have seen some big improvements directly effecting the lives of those we work with (at first the difficulty was just making sure there was year round work- which in my opinion is the basis of fair trade and responsible manufacturing) For about 6-8 years I did not take a paycheck and slept on boxes of sandals in the back of the van (and thanks to all the hundreds of friends who either let me park in their driveway or gave me a couch- too many names to mention- but you know who your are. Every penny went back into the company and paychecks of the artists we had trained to make sandals.
We had a difficult time through the winter months where we had no orders for sandals. – Out of shear desperation and desire to introduce our sandals to the world two ideals went into play.
1. look for an opposite climate somewhere in the world, this is why we began finding distributors in other countrys- that would help us get through the winter time
2. We had all these little pieces of scraps laying around from cutting sandals. With our permit to work in Nicaragua we had to bring as much rope out of the country as we brought in; or dispose of it. Well, the culture of the the central americas is to burn the scraps- I didnt like that idea, so i began to look at what we could do with our scraps, so we didnt have to burn them. This would also help us not to have to buy new material in the winter time when cash flow was at a minimum. We started putting the scraps together to make circles which would be connected to make all sorts of things. first we started with rugs and a few bags, to water bottle carriers and picnic baskets. Its a fine art, no two are the same, and they are quite time consuming to make so it keeps everybody busy while sandal making is at a standstill. Fortunately over the past few years as we have opened up more sandals to more people, the rope scrap program has become a small little industry of its own, and we get to use up almost all of our scraps, only the little tiny ones escape (but i do have some ideas for those in the future) We developed the No scraps left behind program to make people aware of the amount of waste that manufacturing can create. Coming from a social work background with a lot of years working with people, and equal amount of years working with the environmental groups and educating and being educated on environmental impacts; i found it neccessary to plug these values first into manufacturing. That is why we have been on such a slow growth program for the last 14 years. Thinking through each step of the way. Figuring out cash flow, not taking money from anywhere that might force us to look over some things; i found it was perfectly fine to take our time and have a small transparent, sustainable company. When you buy a rope art product, you are supporting the ideal of using up all the materials of manufacturing, which developed into an art form, of some really interesting one of kind items. It was my hopes by marketing it that it would create information and ideas that might get passed on to big cap industry to see that. So maybe someone who works at some big factory somewhere that sees all the waste that is created can find something to do with it- and yes, that is happening now!
About the rope, we make the rope in north carolina a partly reclaimed polypropylene cord, which we have found to be the best and we can keep the consistency what we need to make quality sandals; with our watchful eye. This rope is colorfast, super durable- basically one of the strongest ropes known to humans. When we look at environmental impact, one of the most important things to look at is durablitly. That is why we make the best rope and don’t cut any corners. durablitity is sustainablity.
It was our desire to create a product where there was virtually no waste- almost there – about 85% of our waste can be recycled into other products.
Excessive packaging is just annoying. When you receive your sandals they are in a usps mail bag and tied together with a string. There is no “shoe box”, which we feel is a waste of both money and cardboard. We have a sizing/info tag attached to the sandal. That’s about it. We do what we have to appease our shipping needs and requirements by shipping agency’s, and nothing more. If you order a bunch of sandals they might come in any kind of box we can find to use, so if it looks like your box has been around the world a few times or home made- it might just be. We all have enough shoe boxes from when we were kids with odds and ends in them, i don’t think we need anymore.
Our future goals and recyclables of used sandals. When our volume reaches an amount where it makes sense to attempt re extrusion project we are on it. We got a long way to go for that.
When we introduce new products, or friends products we attempt to evaluate environmental impact, energy conservation, and fun!