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Wandering the planet
About Nomadic State of Mind
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 can find small doses of time to let your mind wander into un-known territories. Whether you prefer physical travel (through time 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 handmade sandal and accessories company founded by Chris Anderson, began its voyage in the late ’90s. 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 Chris’ van days, 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
- Jeff - fell off the bus at Bonnaroo and landed here to be our National Sales Manager
- Kelly - your packing master and Chris’ sister, and Dave’s daugher
- Shea - a budding flower from Azaela Fest, now a project manager and make-up entrepreneur.
- Susan - our customer service expert and handler of all things nomadic
- And most importantly our team of 54 rope artisans and distributors around the globe.
Nomadic State of Mind was built from the heart and that’s apparent throughout the structure of the company. Our roots were formed setting up sandal shops at outdoor music festivals across the country. We recognized festival-goers were looking for sandals that were comfortable and fit the free-spirited ambiance and so our sandals evolved into what they are today. As we’ve grown, festivals have remained a favorite activity for Chris and the crew especially during the summer where you’ll find Chris enjoying the music and good vibes.
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 rope sandals while creating a culture rooted in fair trade, ethical practices, and of course 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. However, 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 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 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.
Nomadic State of Mind is a growing team and continues to design and build superb quality, affordably priced, rope art sandals. Made by real hands for wandering feet.
Thanks for your support throughout the years! Peace, Love, Good Times!!!
Below is the original “about us” which has been on the web site since it’s inception, which would be right around the turn of the century!
“Many a few years ago a group of planet wanderers temporarily(!!) put up their rafts, snowboards, surfboards, and cameras and decided to make some permanence. Not necessarily a home of permanence, but a permanent presence. A social work degree backing the idea, a company of sorts began to formulate. A company at the grassroots level. A company of the common folk, not backed by corporate thugs, just your ordinary folks. The money raised to begin this journey of business was done by Chris who spent many summers camped out along the colorado river working as a raft guide and stashing every paycheck. The winters were spent snowboarding, strolling through central America, or writing the greatest story never told. The company began out of a ‘69 VW office. That van was home, office, and factory. Things got crowded, so I moved to different locals and bought a bigger van. Today's world is the “nomadic state of mind”, whether it be walking, driving, surfing the web or interplanetary wandering. “Nomadic” stems from the Latin word “wanderer”. Keep it real- is our pledge to you. We feel in today’s wealth addicted society it is possible to provide consumers with a company that attempts to function as a business in which all people involved with our company perform an active role and win. Our “office”, and shipping is currently based out of North Carolina. Although we still spend a lot of our time on the road- someone is always around to take your order, death threat, or question. Find our Nomadic family at live events, on the phone, or packing sandals: Chris, Big Dave, Jeff, Shea, Kelly, Ryan, Trinlie, Patrick and partners around the planet.”
Big Dave (the shipping master)
Nomadic State of Mind’s Dedication to Fair Trade & Environment
Currently, many of our Nomadic State of Mind rope sandals are being made in a small out of work coffee farm in Nicaragua. Although the cities are beginning to bustle in Nicaragua, many jobs are difficult to find for people out in the country. All of our artists are paid well, and our goal is to offer more employment opportunities to the community as Nomadic State of Mind grows. Our sandal making process is time-consuming, and after extensive training, our artists handcraft each sandal to perfection! We have been working with the same group of people since 2000 and have watched our economic impact positively benefit that community. Buying a pair of handmade rope sandals or 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 affecting the lives of those we work. 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 you 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 sheer desperation and desire to introduce our sandals to the world, we evolved our strategy. In order to combat the low winter sales, we started looking for the opposite climate in another part of the world. We began looking for distributors in other countries that would help us get through our wintertime slump. Now we operate all around the world providing rope sandals and goods to people everywhere!
No Scraps Left Behind
We had all these little pieces of scraps laying around from cutting sandals. Our work permit in Nicaragua required us to bring as much rope out of the country as we brought in, or dispose of it. Well, the culture of the central Americas is to burn excess scraps, an idea I couldn’t get behind so I began looking for other ways to reduce our waste.
We started putting leftover scraps together to make circles that 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. It is a fine art, no two are the same, and they are time-consuming to make so it keeps everybody busy when sandal making is at a standstill. Fortunately over the past few years, as we have expanded, 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.
I come from a social work background with a lot of years working with people and environmental groups. Those years taught me and in turn, I was able to teach others about the environmental impacts of our actions. It was incredibly important to me that these environmental values went into our manufacturing process. That is why we have been on such a slow growth program for the last two decades. Thinking through each step of the way. I found it was perfectly fine to take our time and have a small transparent, sustainable company. Nomadic State of Mind cares deeply about focusing on environmental sustainability and creating cruelty-free shoes (and any other product) in every sense of the word.
When you buy a rope art product, you are supporting the idea of using up all the materials of manufacturing. What was once scraps becomes some really interesting one-of-a-kind items supporting a bigger purpose. It was my hope by marketing it that it would create information and ideas that might get passed on and inspire the big cap industry. 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!
As we evaluated our product line we decided to add a sole option to some of our popular styles. After researching and some trial and error we ended up finding Vibram soles to be the best option. We chose Vibram due to the years that Vibram has been soling shoes around the world. Our sandals with soles are made here domestically using vintage sandal making equipment. We cut the Vibram soles and glue them on using low v.o.c glue. This process is time-consuming but we like using the abandoned machinery from companies who moved to the east. Throughout the last 10 years, we have gone through many different soling bottoms and are quite happy to the point where our research has led us. If you want to learn more about the decisions and headaches of working with soles, deciding on soles, gluing soles, etc you can read about it in our blog, “The Road to More Sole”.
We make almost all of our research and development public because the sharing of information is a necessity for people to survive in the world. You never know when someone is going to suggest something that we never thought of, or maybe someone gathers some information from us that helps them out. At the end of the day, we are trying to make a better place for all of us.
About the rope... we make the rope in North Carolina and it is partly reclaimed polypropylene cord. We found the polypropylene to be the best and most consistent option for making quality sandals. This rope is colorfast and super durable. Basically it is one of the strongest ropes known to humans. When we look at environmental impact, one of the most important things to look at is durability. That is why we make the best rope and do not cut any corners. Durability is sustainability.
It was our desire to create a product where there was virtually no waste. We are almost there! About 90% of our waste can be recycled into other products (thank you No Scraps Left Behind!).
Excessive packaging is just worthless. When you receive your sandals they are in a USPS mailbag and tied together with a string. There is no “shoebox”, 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 agencies 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 homemade- 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 evaluate environmental impact, energy conservation, and fun!
We use domestically grown and sewn certified organic cotton, where we can. As a world, we now know a better way to farm organically. Organic farming eliminates the use of herbicides, toxic defoliants, and synthetic fertilizers. Organic farming is a nontoxic way to farm; which in return helps protect our future generations and our planet. This is also sustainable farming. Promoting a positive future outlook. Now some of our t-shirts use RPET (recycled plastic bottles) and from time to time we try out other fabrics. The fabric will be listed on each T-shirt. Currently, we are in love with the RPET/organic cotton mix shirt that is super soft and breathable. When you buy one of our shirts, we hope you are bringing smiles to people who read the positive messages on the shirt! You’ll also be joining us in raising positive vibes, and wearing art from old photography- thankfully those years in the darkroom weren’t wasted!
“BE the change you want to see”
The ultimate goal of “sustainable cotton” is to move sustainable production, manufacturing and use practices throughout the cotton value chain in order to create a healthy and profitable industry for growers, their communities, manufacturers, retailers and users of all cotton products.
The conventional cultivation of cotton leads to massive environmental and health problems. Around the world, more toxic insecticides are used on cotton than on any other crop. A sustainable alternative is the certified organic cultivation of the “white gold”. The farmers have only a chance to convert their production into controlled organic cultivation of cotton if there is sufficient demand for organic cotton. Although laborious in the beginning, the conversion is worthwhile. We want to help increase the demand for organic cotton.
We believe side projects are important for keeping things fresh and creative. As humans, most of us have the drive to keep moving forward. We strive to always expand and create consciousness, art, and connection along the way. Side projects can be a great conduit for this but it is a delicate balance at the same time making sure to not over extend or create complications for your main focus.
Once we figured out how to successfully add soles to the rope shoes, we put our people and old time machinery to use. We put our heads together, and with the Nomadic desire to create something new or improve on what’s already there, we started playing around with materials and other types of footwear. A much smaller step, and more for fun and experiments than anything else, but through some creativity we have come up with some stuff that is pretty cool. Available on a slightly smaller scale than the rope shoes that we have been doing for well over a decade, these side projects are fun and handcrafted. They are available at times, and not available at others, and vary in materials and colors. Thanks for supporting our side projects as it keeps us mentally stable, or as mentally stable as can be expected…
The Ecolyte Sandal
What is up with Ecolyte sandal? Where did that come from? This was the first “other” type of sandal we made. It looks way different from your typical sandals. Way different. Many people like the flip flop style sandal, people asked us for a flip flop style sandal. So, we thought. Why not, Nomadic state of mind needs a new project? We make excellent sandals, we can make a different kind of sandal, and we can make that sandal kick ass; and after learning how to use vintage sandal making machinery for our rope soles, we had the place and know-how. So we interviewed and tested other “flip flop” sandals out to see what we liked and didn’t like. A fun project, we always need new projects - a curse of sorts. After finding what we liked about a flop sandal and what all of our buddies liked about the different ones they had, we went to work with some friends.
First the material, ok that was obvious – lets pick out something that is quality (quality always has to come first) and comfortable, and keep in line with a rope technology. Hemp. Next was finding the most comfortable strap for the top of the foot. We tried a bunch and eventually found one we liked. Then the foot bedding. We tried out many hemp and hemp mix fabrics. We found the 100% hemp canvas works the best. Then for the innards….soft, squishy but firm arch support. Then the bottom. We wanted non-slick, something that grabs. We landed on Vibram… constructed here domestically. So, we have done some variations on the ecolyte now, using some faux furs made out of hemp, some recycled webbing, and old sails from boats traveling around the world! These sandals went through some changes and additions over the last few years, and you will start seeing some new materials being used soon, as we look at upcycling some other materials.
The Sail Flop
Chris and his dad's love for sailing come out in this project. The essence of this project is expressed as this:
those same sails that carried wind,
that sailed people around the globe,
is now up-cycled into an authentic sandal-
so your feet can now continue the journey,
with the feeling of soft durable once used sails
lining the bottom and the top of your feet,
a super soft eva in the middle,
and nonslip Vibram sole on the bottom.
made in our Florida, USA laboratory.
So that's Nomadic State of Mind… at least a little bit about us. It’s been a project over 2 decades in the making. We are working on our blog now that we have caught up with technology and websites… well for this week anyway. So we will begin blogging about all of our company makes and mistakes and what we have done to make a difference in a few people’s lives—-and have A LOT OF FUN doing it– its only a guarantee of today, so have fun whatever you are doing.
If you have any questions or comments, please let us know: that is how we keep making and doing what you like- after all, you are the consumer- you make the rules
-all 58 of us, and distributors around the globe