SoleRebels: Footwear brand creating shoes from recycled materials and jobs for artisans

Eco-friendly footwear brand soleRebels turns scraps of rubber from old tyres and other recycled material into stylish footwear hand-woven by Ethiopian artisans.

soleRebels’ collection of brightly coloured shoes, sandals and boots from recycled tyres, leather from free-range animals and cloth hand-woven by Ethiopian artisans.

By using local craftsmen, soleRebels is creating jobs and improving livelihoods in Zenabwork, a village in the suburbs of Addis Ababa.

soleRebels was started by Zenabwork-resident, Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, who came up with the business idea after she noticed most of the artisans in her community, who made beautiful footwear, remained jobless and poor. Her goal was to help kickstart Ethiopia’s economy by creating well-paid and sustainable work.

Since establishing the footwear brand in 2004, Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu’s business has become one of the most popular and fastest-growing African footwear brands in the world. soleRebels is currently sold in more than 50 countries including the USA, Canada, Japan, Spain, Taiwan and Switzerland.

soleRebels currently remains the only Fair Trade certified footwear company on the market today. This means that they have undergone a rigorous auditing process to determine that all of their products are made in accordance with sustainable working conditions and environmental practices.

The soleRebels founder Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu is also behind the Garden of Coffee, which sells hand-roasted coffee at its coffee shops in Addis Ababa as well as online.

Ethiopian coffee that has been hand roasted by traditional Ethiopian coffee artisans on our hand crafted ceramic roasters


Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about sustainable lifestyle and green living for publications, and offers content services to planet-friendly businesses. Find out more at 

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