Meet Kathy Wong, founder and CEO of cause-based company, Moeloco. Moeloco is a flip flop retailer which provides one pair of canvas shoes to children in India per sale of their flip flops. To date, Kathy and Moeloco have donated 4,335 pairs of shoes to children in need. Their vibrant flip flops are painted with bright hues and eye-catching colors to denote an uplifting vibe. The most distinguishing feature perhaps, is the etching of positive messages in the soles, which leave inspiring phrases in impressionable surfaces (usually sand). With the help of their flip flops, Moeloco is changing the world one pair of shoes at a time.
What exactly is Moeloco?
Moeloco is a purposeful business. Our social enterprise operates on a one-for-one model. We create rubber flip flops that leave positive messages in the sand like "I am Peace," "Live Love," "Be Happy," and for every pair sold we donate a pair of canvas shoes to a child in poverty so that attending school is much less physically daunting.
What inspired you to create Moeloco—and why flip flops?
I had an epiphany in February 2014 that I needed to make a difference in the world. When I learned that there are over 300 hundred million children in the world without shoes and that many could not attend school because of this--or even that some were dying--I totally knew I had to help.
Why flip flops? It is actually quite the paradox when compared to the message we're sending through our goal to provide shoes for children with none. Flip flops are usually associated with happy times, the beach, or holidays, yet in countries like India where some children will never own a pair of shoes, they are a luxury item. There are millions of children I want to help and flip flops are the fastest growing footwear product in the world--it's a huge market. Providing shoes to a million children in India is absolutely realistic.
What’s one of the most exciting, memorable experiences you’ve had while at Moeloco?
Giving one of the children--whose name cannot be mentioned for purposes of privacy and safety--a pair of our shoes whilst visiting our charity partner in India was incredible. It was beautiful seeing his face light up when he received them. We later learned how much he truly treasures them; he was putting them under his pillow!
I'll never forget going to India and meeting the resilient children we support and the wholesome joy they have in their community despite having endured the most unspeakable tragedies.
What’s your favorite live and give story? In other words, what’s your favorite memory regarding an instance in which you gave back?
There was another boy--whose name also cannot be provided--we provided a pair of shoes to on our shoe giving trip. At 11 years old, he had been kidnapped at a train station and was dragged into the life of the underground. He has since been rescued and is now in full protection. When we presented him the shoes he cried and later came back over to show us his drawings. He is very talented.
What has been the most challenging aspect of building Moeloco?
Scaling the business on limited resources and little knowledge in logistics, distribution channels, or manufacturing was perhaps the most difficult. I'm pushing my limits continuously.
If you had one piece of advice to give to the readers—pertaining to anything—what would that be?
Don’t ever think you can't make a difference. We all have unique gifts to bring into the world, so use them. Anything is possible if you really know your "why" and engage communities in your efforts.