Faux Leather Faux Promotion! The Truth Behind Synthetic Leather

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Over the course of this blog I’ve spoken a lot about the business side of what I want to do and not a lot about the product I want to produce.  My goal is to launch my shoe line.  I’ve been considering the types of products I would use to create the shoes.  I would like to develop an eco-friendly shoe.  There are shoes made of animal byproducts and vegan shoes.  I decided to do some research on both.  Vegan shoes have been given notoriety for being more animal friendly but are they actually greener than shoes that are not?  Some have called that concept into question. The majority of the argument over ethical footwear centers on the use of leather. Some have argued that while synthetic leathers are animal friendly they are not in fact environmentally friendly and pose the same issues in production as that of real leather.

Synthetic leathers are often petroleum-based, and they also require toxic chemicals in production. Some faux leathers are even made of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, which contains phthalates, chemical additives linked to a variety of health problems.  Certain vegan leathers are cork- or kelp-based, and many mainstream leather alternatives are a blend of cotton and polyurethane. While polyurethane is far from eco-friendly, it’s less problematic than PVC. But the question over what material makes the greenest footwear is more complicated than whether natural or synthetic materials are used.  “Natural fibers and synthetics have their own problems,” Huantian Cao, a professor in the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies at the University of Delaware told Mother Jones.

Synthetic leather and leather both require the use of toxic chemicals to produce. Synthetic leather uses PVC. Real Leather is chemically treated so it won’t deteriorate over time. Hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and chromium are all chemicals used in the process.  These chemicals are carcinogenic in large amounts.  Leather production ranks in the top 10 toxic-pollution problems around the world.  There is another option of producing shoes that lowers the amount damage done to the environment.  Shoes can instead be produced using organic cotton and recycled materials.  Simple Shoes, Groundhog Shoes, El Naturalista, Ocean Minded and Soul Seekers Recycled are all companies that produce their shoes using recycled materials.  They use materials like bamboo, recycled car tires, wool, wood, biodegradable bags, cork and water-based adhesives.  Their shoes are all fantastic.  The global footwear industry is estimated to gross over $195 billion by 2015.  That means the sale of many shoes most of which are made from products harmful to the environment.  Personally, I think it is not only important for a shoe to be animal friendly but also environmentally friendly and I will focus my shoe line around that.

Here are some samples of amazing eco-friendly footwear:

Reference Article: Are Vegan Shoes Eco-friendly?
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Rumpelstiltskin Needed a Trademark

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Rumpelstiltskin was a man who knew the importance of a name.  He had many talents.  He could spin straw into gold and one day he offered to help a poor millers daughter being held in captivity.  However, he had a few strings attached.   She could use his services just not his name.  As long as he controlled the use of his name he retained his power.  You should always protect your identity in your personal and business life.  In business, you do so by having a trademark.  You can get a trademark for around $300.  Trademarks protect names, symbols, words and logos that distinguish your business from other businesses.  You’ll have to first do your research to make sure that the name isn’t already taken.  I’m in the process of applying for a trademark.  Once I finish the application process,  I will blog about the wait time and response I receive.  There are several sites on-line that offer you trademarks but in my opinion it is safer to go to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  As for Rumpelstiltskin, his empire crumbled with one word from the millers daughter, “Rumpelstiltskin!” I guess he should have had a trademark.

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Jack and the Giant Scam

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Once upon a time there was a boy named Jack.  Jack ran a small business with his mother selling milk from their cow.  However, they weren’t reaping enough profits.  They could barely make enough to meet their daily needs.  After a while, the business collapsed because their cash cow dried up.  Jack and his mother decided to cut their losses and sell their business.  On the way to the market, Jack met a man who offered him “the answer to all his problems” in exchange for his cow.  Jack thought it over and decided that magical beans were the way to go.  These beans are what I like to call “myths”.  This is information we hear through the grapevine that has no real backing.  I have heard several times that when you start a small business you can apply for a grant from the Small Business Administration/SBA or other funding organizations to cover the cost.  I did some research over the past few days and discovered that this information is simply incorrect.  The SBA does not offer “free money” for people looking to start a new business.  The grants that are available are for specific groups, activities or organizations.  On the other hand, they do offer guidance on how to start a business. They offer information on writing a business plan and training on how to start a business.  However, there is a tiny ray of hope for those hoping to receive a grant.  If you are dead set on a grant you can look into what your state offers.  You can check with the local economic development agency.  I’ve posted a link below that contains the websites for the local economic development agency in each state.  I’ve also posted a link that lists the different federal grants that are offered in the event you wanted to check for yourself.  To go back to Jack, I can tell you that after several phone calls and online searches I’ve learned that you should be leery of sites offering you access to federal grants for you to start your small business.  Some of these sites even ask you for money in exchange for a list of grants you can use.  Don’t let them scam you.  In the end, Jack made it up the beanstalk only to find a Giant that chased him back to where he started and he frantically tried to cut his ties with his investment (magic beans) by chopping the tree down.

Links:

Federal Grants – http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/home.html

Local Economic Development Agencies http://www.sba.gov/content/economic-development-agencies

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About This Blog

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Once upon a time I had a dream.  I wanted to open my own business and design children’s shoes.  At home, I had a giant portfolio with sketches of shoes.  I’d think about what my store would look like and the little shoe boxes with my logo on it. I could visualize every detail of every shoe I sketched.  However, I had no idea how you start your own business and my shoe business stayed in a sketch book.

I’m not the only person with a dream.  I’m not the only person who has their dream laying in a portfolio.  We’ve all heard the stories of self-made business owners but the truth is no one leaves a trail of crumbs for us to follow.  I decided I could get up and pursue my dream or I could stare at it in a portfolio.  As I begin this journey,  all I have is a pocket full of sketches but I believe in life all you need is a dream.  I want to share what I learn along the way. For everyone out there that is like me and all you have is a dream this is my trail of crumbs…

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