Olori releases Tola Classic Shoulder Bag
Headbands of Hope releases a special product designed by a cancer survivor
Saola drops two new men’s shoes
Karma Collective drops three new women’s tops!
Shop clothing from brands that DO GOOD on Choobs.
Shop clothing from brands that DO GOOD on Choobs.
You wear running shoes to run, basketball shoes to ball, and golf shoes to golf. Now you can wear… cannabis shoes to smoke? What?
There are different varieties of the cannabis plant. Both hemp and marijuana come from the same cannabis species, but hemp refers to the non-intoxicating (less than 0.3% THC) varieties and marijuana is the kind that… makes us eat Doritos.
You may have heard of hemp oil by now, but you haven’t seen shoes made from hemp. Allow me to introduce you…
Prepare yourself for an unusual startup story. Bernardo, the founder of 8000Kicks, was having a few beers and joints with friends one night when the idea came up to make a shoe for… smoking. It was a 5-in-the-morning kind of idea, but crazy ideas work sometimes.
Bernardo had seen some bags and wallets made of cannabis fibers before, so he decided to give it a shot. He asked the most unlikely person for help, his GRANDMA Otilia. She had over 50 years of experience in textiles, and together they worked with suppliers until they made the world’s first waterproof hemp shoe!
8000Kicks made these shoes to be comfortable for everyday adventure. They are lightweight and super flexible. They can flex and bounce back to their original shape even after years of action.
This footwear is for the active person, the challenger, the explorer. The only way to provide the best experience under any condition is to keep your feet dry. That’s why 8000Kicks shoes are splash-proof and dust-proof.
The team spent months traveling the globe looking for the right growers of hemp to guarantee a premium fabric that was strong and durable. You can rest assured that these shoes will last, keeping your feet safe.
While Nike uses polyester, rubber, cotton, and leather in their shoes, 8000Kicks uses hemp – it’s 100% vegan. Hemp can be grown as a renewable source for raw materials that can be incorporated into thousands of products! 8000Kicks uses this incredible plant to make their shoes and insoles.
Hemp has many environmental benefits. It is an attractive rotation crop for farmers. As it grows, hemp breathes in CO2, detoxifies the soil, and prevents soil erosion. Hemp requires much less water to grow — and no pesticides — so it is much more environmentally friendly than traditional crops.
And for the sole of the shoe, 8000Kicks uses Algae Bloom, thus removing harmful algae from our waterways.
The average carbon emissions for a pair of running shoes is 14Kg, but 8000Kicks’ process uses 71% less CO2, just 4.1Kg. They also use 70% less water.
And yes, hemp is legal everywhere in the world. You won’t get pulled over for wearing these shoes.
8000Kicks invests in capturing CO2 with the planting of trees. Every newly planted tree removes an average of 50 kilograms of CO2 from the atmosphere each year during its growth period of 20-50 years.
They have planted nearly 4,500 trees already! You can see their progress.
Choobs is an online marketplace for shopping conscious brands.
We’re excited to offer another awesome conscious brand to the Choobs marketplace, and we think you’ll love them too!
SAOLA is on a mission to design casual kicks that look good, feel great, and are made with as many eco-friendly materials as possible. They are outdoor lovers, parents of future generations, and they are dedicated to making a difference.
SAOLA shoes are super comfortable and extra light. They’re so soft, you can even wear them barefoot! The insoles are made from natural cork, which makes you feel like you’re walking on a cloud.
These shoes are light as a feather! They weigh less than 0.4 pounds – lighter than Allbirds!
SAOLAs are priced fairly compared to other shoe brands, especially other conscious brands. You can get a great pair of shoes for as little as $69, and the maximum you’ll pay is $99.
A bonus is that you’ll get free shipping!
SAOLA knows that sixty to seventy percent of the environmental footprint of a pair of shoes is a result of the product’s materials, so they’ve made eco-construction the central pillar of SAOLA’s shoe development. They carefully selected the materials that go into the shoes…
As mentioned, the comfy insoles are made of natural cork. An advantage of natural cork is that the bark can be harvested without cutting down the trees! These trees continue to grow and generate a new bark which can be taken again a few years later.
The uppers of SAOLA shoes are made with recycled plastic bottles, otherwise known as PET. When recycled, PET goes through a cleaning, grinding, and melting process that results in a thread, giving second life to plastic and reducing trash in our landfills. And what happens to this thread? Well, it’s then woven into various fabrics to create the comfy and stylish uppers for SAOLA shoes. Depending on the style, each pair of SAOLA shoes contains between 3 and 7 recycled PET bottles.
If that’s not enough, check this out… Rising temperatures and excess chemicals in our lakes and rivers contribute to the growth of algae – harming the lives of plants, animals, and humans. SAOLA partnered with the team at Bloom Foam to harvest harmful algae and create eco-friendly, bio-sourced materials for the insoles and outsoles of their shoes. Bloom Foam removes harmful algae from the water and puts it through a process that dries, crushes, and converts it into powder. This powder is then mixed with EVA (a synthetic material) to become Algae Foam, used for sole construction. Using Algae Foam allows SAOLA to use fifteen to twenty percent less synthetic materials in their soles, cleans lakes of harmful algae, and prevents the release of CO2 into the atmosphere. Now that’s what we call a win for mother nature and a win for your feet!
Oh, and the laces are made from organic cotton.
Not only can you buy shoes that are comfy and sustainable, but you can also help support SAOLA’s social mission. SAOLA has been committed to the preservation of wildlife since its creation. It’s even in the name… the Saola is one of the rarest animals found on our planet with only 700 or so animals left.
This conscious brand donates one percent of sales to wildlife conservation projects so that in another 40 years, our planet’s animals are not a thing of the past.
SAOLA donates this money to MWALUA WILDLIFE TRUST, a grassroots organization in Africa that is fighting droughts to supply sustainable water systems to wildlife communities, while also promoting human-wildlife coexistence. Volunteers work with communities to raise awareness about conservation, promote ecological restoration, and increase ethical economic opportunities to protect Kenya’s nature and biodiversity.
Like all my favorite things, SAOLAs are easy to clean! Throw them in the wash (on cold) and you can also tumble dry them on low.
RELATED: Shop Consciously: Karma Collective
Choobs is an online marketplace for shopping socially conscious brands!
We’re very excited to welcome another incredible socially conscious brand to the Choobs family, and we think you’ll like them too!
One look at their designs and it’s pretty obvious – Karma Collective is here to share the positive vibes! Whether you’re rocking the ‘Happy’ Terry cotton pullover or our personal favorite, the ‘Trust The Universe’ crop tank, you’ll be sure to stay uplifted while wearing these inspiring reminders!
After completing a 10-day silent meditation retreat in the rain forests of Hawaii- Karma Collective’s founder felt evoked to share her experience with the world by spreading good vibes and impacting change. This got her thinking, what better way to express yourself than by style?
The concept of donating, not paying, to take part in the retreat is like sharing good karma points which persuaded Karma Collective to inspire others to support their communities.
In fact, 10% of the profits donated go to World Housing, a hybrid organization that provides safe homes to families in need around the world!
All Karma Collective designs have a positive meaning to them that empowers each person who wears them to take part in small acts of kindness and positivity because they can make a big difference!
Karma Collective is all about following your passions, listening to your gut, and trusting the universe- so if you’re looking for a sign – this is it!
Choobs is an online marketplace for shopping sustainable brands!
David stoned Goliath, American revolutionaries sent home the British kingdom, #16 UMBC took down #1 Virginia in the NCAA tournament, and Choobs won Chicago Tech Madness.
How did Choobs, a two-person startup that nobody’s heard of, get enough votes to beat billion-dollar startups with hundreds of employees? How did a #16 seed go all the way?
On an afternoon in early February, Chicago Inno, the top publication for local startup news, sent me their daily newsletter which I’ve subscribed to for three years. It said to nominate startups for this year’s Tech Madness bracket, a March-Madness-like competition where people vote for which startup they’d invest in, and the company with more votes moves on to the next round. I’ve followed and voted in this competition for years.
I quickly nominated Choobs, a tech startup that I launched 7 months prior, and went on with my day. Choobs is a bootstrapped company that had zero publicity and few followers. I didn’t expect to make it in.
A month later, on March 9, the newsletter hit my inbox again. This one announced the bracket, and I opened it with little hope. Like your own name popping out at you, the very first thing I saw on the bracket filled with 64 companies was my company, Choobs.
I assume the team at Chicago Inno had more than 64 nominations, so some companies had to be cut. How did we get in? Maybe Choobs made the cut because we already had launched a product and were doing business. Maybe it was because they liked our mission or website. Or maybe they just picked out of a hat to decide which company would get the final spot…
All I know is my feeling of excitement lasted for less than one second because the next thing I noticed was Choobs got the #16 seed. Anyone who follows March Madness knows that a #16 seed is the lowest seed in the bracket.
Considering my expectations, I should have been happy just to be in the competition. My company was on the same page as popular Chicago startups – Foxtrot, Cameo, SpotHero, Farmer’s Fridge. That’s pretty cool! But competitors like me can be irrational, and a little fire lit inside of me when I saw that #16 next to Choobs.
We would face a #1 seed, Avant, in the first round, and I felt a burn to win. To prove Choobs worthy of Tech Madness and get revenge for being a #16.
My love for sports taught me something about human nature – everyone loves an underdog. I’ve always cheered for underdogs in March Madness, World Cups, and Olympics. The country cheered when Loyola-Chicago made the Final Four, people went crazy when Leicester City won the Premier League, and we never forgot when U.S.A beat Russia in hockey. I figured I could rally people behind #16 Choobs beating #1 Avant. All we had to do was get more votes than them.
With an attention-grabbing tweet and a post on LinkedIn, we were off to the races. The posts racked up likes, shares, and comments from friends and random people alike. Human nature was in full force… Beat Goliath!!
I added fuel to the fire with memes. You know what they say… tell a man to vote and he’ll vote once, rile him up with memes and he’ll vote every day. Honestly, I made these memes for my own entertainment…
Even with this traction on social media, I didn’t expect to beat Avant. Any random person passing through the bracket would vote for the company they recognized, Avant, over Choobs. That meant we would need more votes than Avant employees AND neutral voters. How could we work smarter?
I found a link to make voting much easier, figured out that the site would allow me to vote every 24 hours, and found that each device and browser let me vote additional times each day. While they voted once per day, we were voting 5 times. That’s working smart.
As a result, the #16 seed no-name startup with 2 employees beat the 1.5 billion dollar, 500-person startup. Mission accomplished!
Chicago Inno wrote about how Choobs won, our site got a little traffic bump from the news, and I was satisfied with pulling off the best upset in Chicago Tech Madness history.
The story could’ve very well ended here. Choobs was to face another well-known startup, The Mom Project, in the next round (and I figured a name like that would beat Choobs easily). I didn’t make memes and hardly posted about voting, but somehow the voters kept voting, and we won again! We were going to the Sweet 16, and now I felt motivated to make a push.
The memes were flying, and Choobs kept winning.
We rolled past #5 Chowbus ($68M raised) to get to the Elite 8.
The rounds would last 3-4 days and the winner was always shown at 11:00 pm on the last day. My mind juggled between “we got this” and “no chance we win again.” I rarely stayed up to see if we won, opting to find out in the morning instead.
We knocked off #7 HealthJoy ($48M raised) to make the Final Four.
We danced past #7 PerkSpot ($50M raised) to stake our spot in the Championship.
I saw friends and family feverishly voting every day. Each time we won, people wanted to know what I’d get if Choobs won the championship, and the answer was always… “nothing.” The lack of reward didn’t stop the voters, though. People I haven’t talked to in years told me they were voting every day. Secondary connections were sharing the voting link with their extended families. Someone I knew well was confused when he got told to vote from someone who didn’t know me. A Barstool Sports personality tweeted to vote for Choobs. Gies College Of Business tweeted to vote for Choobs. My high school teachers joined in too. How could something so meaningless spread so fast? Everyone just wanted to see a good old Cinderella story.
And so we faced a #5 seed, M1 Finance, in the Championship. M1 is a startup with 150 employees and $170 million in funding, but I no longer feared that they had the employees, the publicity, and the flashy name. Choobs had become an unstoppable force in Tech Madness.
I sat with a few friends at a live music bar on April 1, just three weeks after I made those first posts about voting for Choobs in Tech Madness. With a refresh of the voting page at 11:00 pm, while the musician played an acoustic version of The Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want, I got what I then wanted. Choobs won 2021 Chicago Tech Madness! It turns out that we got over 75% of the vote in that championship round.
I never dreamed of winning the whole thing. I badly wanted to win that first round against the #1 seed and I was satisfied after that. But when an underdog picks up steam, and people have an opportunity to feel part of a movement, they join in. It’s human nature.
I’m very grateful that Choobs was the vehicle for excitement this March. Winning the competition doesn’t mean that Choobs is the favorite startup in Chicago or anything like that, but it does signify the strength of my community. A damn good community!