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Baabuk is a sustainable shoe brand championing the magical properties of wool. The Swiss-based company uses ethical production and sustainable innovation to create comfortable shoes and slippers.
We caught up with co-founder Galina to discuss all things wool and what inspired her to start Baabuk.
Hello! Who are you, what brand do you run, and what kind of products do you make?
My name is Galina Witting. I am co-founder of Baabuk.
We manufacture and sell wool footwear and accessories. Those products are created for people who believe that consuming goods is also an opportunity to engage in a positive impact for the world we live in.
Did you know from the start you wanted to create a sustainable company? What inspired you?
At the very beginning, we wanted to start an adventure and try and understand all the processes that go into a business. Very quickly, we understood that sustainability would be the backbone of our company. Businesses, being important actors in our society, have to set examples and inspire change.
From the beginning, we were supported by the B-corp community. We chose to strive for a B-corp certification very early after the creation of Baabuk. Through this network we met incredible people and discovered very inspiring stories.
What were the main challenges and learnings you had when first starting in the footwear industry? How do things compare today to when you first started?
The main challenges were to learn how to make shoes – it is a very complicated process and a difficult field to navigate.
We don’t come from this industry. At the same time, coming from another background helps you to challenge installed practices and improve them.
Baabuk is passionate about wool as a key material for your shoes and slippers, can you tell us more about why you’ve chosen wool?
We chose wool as an alternative & more sustainable material to what is usually used in footwear – leather, cotton, and synthetics. But wool also has amazing properties – it is antibacterial, insulating, low in the carbon footprint.
Some people call it “magic fiber”. We were inspired by the ancient Siberian Valenki – a wool boot that’s been used to keep feet warm for centuries in the coldest parts of the world. We adopted this ancient technology into a modern design.
You can read more here: https://www.baabuk.com/pages/wool
In your eyes, what’s your biggest achievement or milestone so far?
Every step is an achievement, small or big, and an opportunity to learn. There are too many to pick just one – from our B-Corp certification to our new products – we’re very proud of the achievements we’ve made thus far.
How do you ensure your company stays true to your mission as you grow and evolve?
Baabuk is not fixed in time and space. The company will always evolve, not necessarily constantly grow. It will have to adapt to its environment to survive as an entity lives. Trust in our initial vision and into the people who make it a reality will ensure that we stay authentic to our mission.
Greenwashing is a major problem, especially in the fast fashion industry. As the demand for sustainable footwear grows, do you see greenwashing becoming a problem?
I believe that every step in the sustainability area is a good step as long as people stick to their engagement & do so with authenticity. We can always do better and more, and we aim to be transparent about our strengths and our weaknesses.
The footwear industry is traditionally unsustainable, and greenwashing has started to cover (not fix) many of these issues.
So, our best action is to continue to improve our processes and educate our audiences on what authentic sustainability in footwear can be – and hopefully inspire others to follow.
How, as consumers, can we ensure we are buying from truly sustainable brands?
Educating customers is one of the important communication topics at Baabuk. It is talking to your customers and being transparent with them that they understand that the act of purchasing something is already an engagement.
Have you tried a product from another sustainable/ethical brand that you think our audience should know?
Laines Paysannes is an eco-conscious brand using responsibly sourced wool to create bespoke clothing and homewares in the French Pyrenees.
What does the future look like for Baabuk?
Our ambition is to tell stories around wool and make this material attractive to different groups of people in different places. We also want to challenge the fibre and develop new innovations to expand the usefulness of this “miracle fibre”
If you enjoyed this article, you might check out Baabuk in our guide on sustainable sneakers, or check out more of our Q&A series including an interviews with sustainable activewear brand Presca, and swimwear brand Kitty & Vibe.