Many companies are founded on a fruitless product search. This is exactly what happened when Vauna Lafond went hunting for eco-friendly vegan slippers for her son. Vauna didn’t want to buy animal products and most baby slippers are made from leather or wool. She also wanted something 100% natural and vegan leather commonly contains polyester. So Vauna did some research, discovered cork, and decided to launch a baby slipper company, called Soft Soul.
Soft Soul sells baby slippers for kids ages zero to three-and-a-half manufactured from cork and other natural materials. Her slippers are PETA certified 100% animal-free, synthetic-free, and manufactured in Vancouver.
Vauna is on-trend as more parents are concerned about their family’s environmental footprint and cork is emerging as a superstar eco-friendly alternative to leather.
Cork is as functional as it is beautiful. It’s biodegradable, waterproof, buoyant, elastic, lightweight, fire-resistant, anti-mildew and non-porous (so when it gets dirty you can just wipe it clean). It is also a renewable resource. Cork is made from bark harvested from a variety of oak trees found in Portugal and Spain. According to the World Wildlife Fund, cork oak forests support the most biodiversity in Europe.
And, get this - cork can be harvested without harming the tree. We all know that living trees capture carbon dioxide and reduce global warming, but with cork, it gets even more interesting. Cork trees absorb more CO2 when they’re regenerating their bark, so cork trees that are regularly harvested store five times more CO2 than those left untouched. For all these reasons, cork is one of the best eco-friendly alternatives to leather and plastic out there.
Soft Soul slippers are beautiful and good for the planet, but for Vauna her company is about so much more than shoes. She says, “Everyone thinks the name is about shoe soles, but really it is about the human soul. I have a soft soul. I care so deeply about families and people in my community and I want my business to focus on humanity and caring.”
Vauna loves Vancouver because it’s an eco-friendly place. Vauna likes to participate in community events and she regularly attends farmers’ markets and craft shows. She says, “I am all about human connections. I like that my business provides an opportunity for me to get to know people, especially other women and mothers. I am very extroverted.”
Vauana sometimes finds it challenging to find a balance between giving back to her community and investing in her business. She says in 2020 her business will “focus on kindness and on things that make us feel good.” For example, next year she’s launching a project that will design slippers for handicapped kids.
When it comes to clothing, Vauna shares Tradle’s belief that less is more. She doesn’t subscribe to the cultural norm that we need closets full of clothing. Her kids wear hand-me-downs, and she donates their excess clothes to children at women’s shelters.
The good news is business is booming. Vauna says, “like with any new business there are challenges and the biggest one for us is not meeting demand. People are really interested in eco-friendly, animal-free textiles right now.”
At Tradle it’s important to us that every item we distribute is high quality, durable, and stylish and made with natural and organic fibers. We love to support local businesses, like Soft Soul, who like us are creating business models that are good for the planet. Big kudos to Vauna and her team at Soft Soul. We’re so excited to partner with them!