The Craig Fahle Show

Developmentally Disabled Adults Find Work & Pride In Flip-Flops

Monday, July 7, 2014

Photo courtesy of the Detroit News

Executive Director of Cass Community Social Services Reverend Faith Fowler talks with Craig about transforming flip-flops into a self-sustaining business model, that benefits employees and the environment.

“We started Green Industries to employ people who are having a hard time getting work,” Fowler explains. At the moment the group employs 80 people, some of whom are developmentally disabled, homeless, or have had difficulty maintaining a steady source of income. “Everybody is a little bit different, “ Fowler says of her staff.

The group started out making mud mats for cars, by using recycled materials. The mats went well, as have the tire puck-ups which have been an integral part of the project. Now the group is making flip-flops, dubbed Detroit Treads, and using the tires and other repurposed scrap materials to craft sturdy summer sandals. Why?

“We couldn’t use the tread of the tire for mud mats, so we figured out a way to use to the tread to make sandals,” Fowler says. The process of building the sandals involves multiple people, and based off the positive response thus far, Fowler anticipates she’ll hire 20 more people in the near future to keep up with the demand.

“It’s good for the environment, employees and it’s a good looking shoe, and the most important part is that you can sell this product and the whole thing is sustainable,” she says.

--Annamarie Sysling