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Kenton Lee - Shoe That Grows

Updated: Jul 9


If you’ve ever had the opportunity to travel to an underdeveloped country, you may have noticed kids running around barefoot.


After serving at an orphanage in Kenya while in college, Kenton Lee wanted kids to have their own pair of shoes. He came up with an idea, The Shoe That Grows and tried to pitch it to major shoe companies, but was constantly turned down.


Kenton decided to ignore the rejection and develop a shoe that could adjust 5 sizes and last 5 years. Over the last five years, he has given away over 300,000 shoes worldwide through his nonprofit, Because International. 


Listen to Kenton Lee share his story with Ryan Dye, of how he turned his idea into a self-sufficient nonprofit.


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Full Transcript:

Ryan Dye (00:00):

From CoLab Inc., it's There to Here, a show about entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors and the impact they seek to make on the world. I'm Ryan Dye, Executive Director of CoLab and on today's show, we talk with Kenton Lee, Founder of Because International, a nonprofit focused on using innovative products as solutions to alleviate poverty. As an inventor and entrepreneur, Kenton is sought after as an inspirational speaker, TED star and innovative creator of The Shoe That Grows, a worldwide cause and movement that has been featured on CBS News, The Today Show, Huffington Post, Reddit, BuzzFeed, CNN, and Business Insider, to name just a few. Kenton is a native of Nampa, Idaho and holds graduate degrees in divinity, nonprofit management and organizational leadership. Kenton, thanks so much for joining us today.

Kenton Lee (00:49):

Ryan, it's great to be on. I'm excited to chat.

Ryan Dye (00:53):

Yeah. So what led you to start Because International and how did you arrive at that name?

Kenton Lee (00:59):

Great question. The short version on what led me to start it. So yes, I'm born and raised Nampa, Idaho, which is a fairly small town in Idaho that nobody knows about. So I really had not seen much of the world and I also went to college here in my town. And so basically I wanted to get out and travel after college and I thought maybe I was going to be a missionary and I'd never really been outside the U.S. So I lived in Ecuador for six months and then Kenya for six months, right after college. And just an incredible time in life for me. Found out I could not be a missionary, I missed home way too much. I missed Wendy's and just everything I've gotten used to at home.

Kenton Lee (01:53):

But when I was in Kenya, I lived and worked at a small orphanage. And when I was there, that's where I had this idea for a growing shoe. I saw many of the kids either with no shoes or with shoes that they had outgrown and they would cut open the front to let their toes stick out, and they just didn't have any options for more. The orphanage couldn't afford new shoes for them, and they received some donations, but not very many. So really like there was just this problem that kids have growing feet, but they would outgrow their shoes and not have any access to more. So I just thought, "Well, that'd be nice if there was a pair of shoes that could adjust and expand their size. Like what if, what if there was a pair of shoes that could grow?

Kenton Lee (02:42):

So I came back home. I knew I wasn't going to be like an overseas, career missionary, but I still wanted to do something to help. And my question kind of became, what could my mission be from here, in Nampa, Idaho? What can my mission be from my hometown? And that's where I went back to that idea about a growing shoe. And I really thought, I didn't see anybody else working on that. I kind of assumed someone else had already made that, but I didn't see any anybody else that had done that. And I really thought it could make a difference, especially I mean, even if it's just for the kids that I was with, I knew a pair of shoes, a good pair of shoes, could make a difference for them.

Ryan Dye (03:24):

Right.

Kenton Lee (03:24):

So I jumped in with it and I thought I'd put a little structure around it. So Because International became the nonprofit. And even the reason I called it that. So when I got back home, it's almost like when you come back from like summer camp or a mission trip or something like that, life just kind of comes back at you.

Ryan Dye (03:46):

Right.

Kenton Lee (03:46):

And even though you maybe had some things you really wanted to do, you start to work, you start to hang out with friends, you start to just kind of do all that regular life stuff. And the same thing happened for me. I really thought, I really wanted to try to do something to help. I really thought this shoe idea was something that I could really pursue. I kind of wanted to make sure I gave it a good effort. So I really sat down and thought, "Do I have time to do this? Do I really want to do this? Am I going to make room for this in my life?" And I love making lists. So I just made a bunch of lists.

Kenton Lee (04:25):

But always, every list I made, I always had so many more reasons on the let's go for it side. And all of those reasons started with, because. It was, because the kids really need this, because this really could help them, because blah, blah, blah. And so when I decided to kind of officially jump into it and I knew I wanted to put a little structure around it and start an organization, I kind of went back to my lists and I just saw that word because so many times. And I thought, "That kind of defines what this is for me. I've got some reasons why I'm doing this," and it's because of this.

Kenton Lee (05:13):

Anyway, so that's where the name came from, Because International. And actually, two people listening to this might be interested to hear this little tidbit. But if you look at our logo, our logo is actually my handwriting, writing that word because. And that's from one of those lists. We kind of grabbed a screenshot of that or whatever. And so that's actually just my handwriting, writing that word because on one of those lists about 10 years ago.

Ryan Dye (05:44):

That's excellent. It has a very organic development to it.

Kenton Lee (05:49):

Yeah.

Ryan Dye (05:49):

And sometimes we can try too hard to make something look a certain way and it's already in front of us.

Kenton Lee (05:57):

Sure. Yeah. And it's kind of fun. Yeah, yeah. It's our story. It's kind of who we are and thought that'd be kind of fun. So, yeah.

Ryan Dye (06:05):

Well, developing The Shoe That Grows is such a brilliant idea and in some ways, it's such a simple idea. Not saying the process may have been simple, but in addressing a need, having been in developing countries myself and been on mission trips, this came to mind how important something like The Shoe That Grows can be for a lot of different communities in these developing parts of the world. Being in Iquitos, Peru, for example, you go around and sanitation is not the same as it is that we're used to.

Kenton Lee (06:43):

Right. For sure.

Ryan Dye (06:44):

And you realize, you might be on a lot of dirt streets and stagnant water and a lot of things that can cause problems and infections. I remember we had a gentleman, a young man, who came to one of the clinics we were running, who had a really bad injury to his foot. He was a sanitation worker, went around in a garbage truck and had had an injury that was pretty bad. But became much worse because it became infected. Well, he can no longer work. He's got four young kids at home, so there's no income coming in and he can't go and really spend money on getting it properly addressed. And so he was on the verge of losing a leg because of this. We were able to help address this injury. But I'm thinking to myself, most of the kids I see running around, they're not wearing shoes or folks that do have shoes, they're not going to last very long. So this is such a brilliant idea to have The Shoe That Grows. What was part of the process in developing this amazing product?

Kenton Lee (07:54):

Yeah, well, you're very kind. Although, when we first got started, it was not an amazing product. I had a lot of people telling me it wasn't a good idea too. So it took us six years to work on this. And when I say us, I mean myself and a couple of friends.

Ryan Dye (08:14):

Sure.

Kenton Lee (08:14):

It wasn't a big firm of shoe design professionals that we knew what we were doing. It's a couple of buddies and myself working on this. The first thing we did, we just tried to give the idea away. We didn't care who did it. We just wanted someone to do it. And we didn't want any money for it or anything. We just thought it was a good idea. And so we contacted probably 30 major shoe companies just to see if they wanted to do it.

Ryan Dye (08:41):

Right.

Kenton Lee (08:41):

And nobody did.

Ryan Dye (08:44):

Yeah. Where's the money in this?

Kenton Lee (08:48):

Yeah, that's a huge part of it, I think. But even just design, many of them told me, "It's not a good idea. It couldn't work. It's too hard to figure out." And so that probably should have been really discouraging, but I had seen it like firsthand. I think that was one of the biggest maybe strengths that I had, was that I was there for six months at this orphanage where I saw it every day. And I saw the situation that the kids were in. They didn't have any other options for more shoes and their feet were growing. Like any kid, their feet are growing like crazy. And so I just knew that, nobody could tell me, even a shoe professional, like nobody could tell me it wasn't a good idea because I saw it.

Ryan Dye (09:36):

Right.

Kenton Lee (09:36):

I really believed it was a good idea. So we kept going. We tried to make a prototype on our own. And if anyone is ever in Nampa, Idaho, wants to come to our office, you can come see the world's worst shoe prototypes. We just made some terrible, I mean, we didn't know what we were doing. We bought a bunch of Crocs and shoes at a thrift store and we're just cutting them up and gluing them together. And I mean, we just didn't know what we were doing. But finally, in a really roundabout way, we finally found a small shoe design company that had just gotten started. And some Nike guys who had quit to form this company in Portland, Oregon, and they jumped in with us. They loved our idea. They loved what we were trying to do and why we were trying to do it.

Kenton Lee (10:24):

So we wouldn't be here today without them. But they helped us make a prototype. We did a little bit of fundraising and made a hundred pairs of the prototype. My wife and I took them back to Kenya and had kids in four different schools test them out for about a year. I got some great feedback and we're able to make a first batch of 3000 pairs. And at that point, that's all I ever thought this was going to be, this was kind of a hobby for me. I was a pastor at the time. I had these 3000 pairs, this kind of hobby organization that I was passionate about. And I slowly started to get some of those shoes out to people like yourself, going on mission trips and things. But it was just kind of a hobby I did on the side for a little while, until we accidentally went viral about five years ago.

Ryan Dye (11:19):

Well, I'd like to hear about how you went viral, but I was just going to say that you really have a true entrepreneur story because what it tells me is that no can be a powerful motivator.

Kenton Lee (11:31):

Correct.

Ryan Dye (11:31):

When you're developing something, people say, "Oh, this is a bad idea. That's not going to work."

Kenton Lee (11:34):

Yeah.

Ryan Dye (11:36):

A true entrepreneur will say, "I will take that and I will prove to you that you're wrong."

Kenton Lee (11:40):

Right. Totally. People asked me because it really did take six solid years. People will ask me, "How did you keep going? What was your motivation?"

Ryan Dye (11:50):

Right.

Kenton Lee (11:51):

And a lot of it was the kids. I'd really gotten to know the kids at the orphanage and I considered them my friends. And so I kind of just wanted to do something to help my friends, which kind of anybody would do. That was most of the motivation. But then a part of it was definitely because people told me I couldn't do it. People said it wasn't a good idea and I really thought it was. So there was some of that too. And then part of it, I just enjoyed it. And I think, at the time, I would not have identified myself as an entrepreneur. Looking back, even looking back to high school and earlier I can now see a lot of things that I did kind of had, I guess, an entrepreneurial spirit to it.

Kenton Lee (12:40):

But even at the time, it was a problem that I thought I had a solution for. It was just something I enjoyed trying to figure out. I enjoyed the challenge of it. I enjoyed the progression of it, how can we make the design? Okay, how can we get the prototype? Okay, how can we get enough funding to test the prototype? Like I just enjoyed it. And so I think looking back, those are some entrepreneurial characteristics maybe.

Ryan Dye (13:11):

Right.

Kenton Lee (13:11):

But at the time, it was just a project I loved. I was doing it for some kids that I loved and I wanted to yeah, kind of make it happen because I was getting a little stubborn about it. But yeah, it was so fun when we finally got that first batch and started to get them out there. It's a cool feeling to create something. I was loving it and then wasn't expecting to go viral.

Ryan Dye (13:39):

Yeah, tell me how it went viral.

Kenton Lee (13:41):

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'll give you the short version, but I'll share a little of the background. So once we had made the shoes and we actually had them and the shoes just lived in my guest bedroom, Florida ceiling, in these boxes, I made it a goal that anybody whoever wanted to hear about it, I would go talk to them. I didn't care if they could donate money or anything.

Ryan Dye (14:05):

Sure.

Kenton Lee (14:06):

If anyone was interested, I'll go talk to you. So I went to nursing homes, I went to elementary classrooms, I just went anywhere and everywhere. But I went to this one pastors meeting, super small little pastors meeting, but one of the pastors really was interested in what we were doing. And he invited me to come share it at his church. They had kind of a senior citizen Sunday school class with about 10 people. But the pastor and I just really kept connecting. And so a few weeks later, he let me know that he'd reached out to his daughter who lives in Portland. And she's a news reporter for a local news channel there. And he kind of pitched our story to her. And he knew that our shoe guys were in Portland. So he kind of thought there was a connection there. So she reached out to me and I was actually going to be in Portland. So anyway, we did the small little five minute news segment, local news in Portland. And it was kind of fun. We got a few more emails than I normally would get.

Kenton Lee (15:04):

And a few people saw it, but then someone shared the Facebook link to that story with one of their friends in New York who worked at BuzzFeed. And so I had a reporter from BuzzFeed reach out to me and ask if they could do a story. And I said, "Of course." But I didn't really think much of it. I probably should have thought more about it. So they did a little story in it and it came out, it was on a Friday. This was in April, 2015. And that Friday, man, everything just changed. That story was kind of a spark that really ignited this wildfire of publicity. Dozens of other online kind of news outlets picked up their story. I mean, overnight, it just went crazy. I think that day, that Friday, I had maybe 3000 emails and maybe a thousand calls to our organizational headquarters, which at the time was my personal cell phone, my personal email. So I remember it just being a crazy day and literally, I mean, everything changed that day.

Kenton Lee (16:11):

So that was five years ago. And so in the past five years, we have now distributed over 300,000 pairs of The Shoe That Grows to kids in over a hundred countries. We've worked with over 4,000 partners to do those distributions. And this has just been an unexpected journey really from the start. But especially five years ago, it's just been such a crazy journey. And it's just been a blast to get to work on this. It's my full time work now and we've got a great team here in Nampa that works on it. But I would've never predicted any of this, it's been a fun journey these past five years, especially.

Ryan Dye (16:51):

Well, that leads me to my next question, which is, there are often a lot of benefits in partnering with like-minded mission focused organizations and other nonprofits. Have you been able to connect The Shoe That Grows with other organizations, such as World Vision or Compassion International or similar type organizations that can help connect what you have to offer in other ways?

Kenton Lee (17:18):

Yes. So we couldn't do what we do without partnerships and we are really fortunate and we didn't do this by design, it just kind of worked out this way. But a lot of the partners that we work with can both purchase our shoes, which brings revenue to our organization and allows us to make more shoes and everything that we do. So they're not only purchasing our shoes, but they're also distributing them to the kids that they work with. And we haven't actually worked with a lot of larger nonprofits, like Compassion or World Vision, but so many small nonprofits, orphanages, rotary clubs, and then especially churches, missionaries. An average order of shoes for us is about 67 pairs. And so we're typically working with smaller groups that are doing mission trips and traveling, although right now that's changed since we're working through that.

Ryan Dye (18:17):

It's challenging, yes.

Kenton Lee (18:18):

But it really is just an awesome reality to know that other nonprofits not only wants a partner in kind of a networking and a distribution way, but they're really willing to invest in what we're doing.

Ryan Dye (18:34):

Right.

Kenton Lee (18:34):

And truly investing in their kids. I mean, that's what it's all about. We feel like we have a great pair of shoes that is a really good fit for kids who might not always have a consistent pair of shoes available. It's a great pair of shoes, it grows five sizes. It can last for years. We really believe in it. It's just an amazing pair of shoes. I wear them every day. I've actually worn my pair every single day for about five years.

Ryan Dye (18:59):

Wow.

Kenton Lee (19:00):

It's a solid pair of shoes. And so we just love our model where we get to focus on what we're good at, which is making our shoes. And I always say, I'm in Nampa, Idaho. I don't know the kids around the world who need our shoes. I really don't. And we want to make sure our shoes are going to the right kids to help them be healthier, to attend school more often. And so we love working with these other nonprofits and groups, because they're the ones who know these kids.

Ryan Dye (19:28):

Right.

Kenton Lee (19:29):

They're the ones in the trenches working with these kids every day. And then we kind of leave it up to them for how they distribute it, what they do with it. But we love being a really innovative resource that they can use to help their kids be in a better position to succeed. So it's fun. Even when I get to speak at different places or share about our shoes, we love donations, obviously like any nonprofit. But truly, I always ask people, "Who do you know? Who do you know that works with kids? Is it your church? Do you have a nonprofit that you know? Do you know someone?" Even just, we have a lot of individuals who travel, who love taking our shoes places where they go and connecting with groups there. So I love asking people "Who do you know who, who works with kids? Because we'd love to talk to them and see if our shoes would be a good fit for the kids they work with."

Ryan Dye (20:21):

Absolutely. You talked about going and that being a missionary for a certain period of time, you didn't see that as your longterm role. And yet at the same time, I see you as a domestic missionary to promote your product and this mission that you're on to help get it into the hands and on the feet of kids all over the world, I think it's a great mission.

Kenton Lee (20:49):

I was so interested in missions and I thought that only meant I had to be a career overseas, live in wherever for the rest of my life.

Ryan Dye (20:59):

Yeah. Live in a grass hut.

Kenton Lee (21:00):

Yeah. Like I thought, that's the only way you can do that. And I wish I would've learned this a little bit sooner, but I mean there are so many different ways to be involved in missions. For a while actually, I kind of felt bad. Like I felt like I failed, like I couldn't cut it. I couldn't do it. And truly, I have a ton of respect for anyone who can live away from home. I think that's a difficult thing to do. But for others, I would encourage anybody who is interested in missions to kind of look at all of the different ways that they could be involved. I mean, there are so many capable, amazing leaders locally in all of these areas.

Ryan Dye (21:39):

Absolutely. Yeah. I think service definitely comes in many forms and that's important for people to understand. Well, you're a sought after speaker and you focus on the topic of practical compassion, the small things that make a big difference, and the power of generosity. That's very empowering. What takeaways are you hoping to inspire an audience with?

Kenton Lee (22:04):

Yeah, there's kind of one thing I love talking about. And even more than talking about shoes, I love sharing this message, and that's the power of small things. We know that our shoes do not solve every problem. it's not a perfect solution. We still feel like they're worth it. And it's important. Our shoes are helping kids be healthier. They're protecting their feet from soil transmitted diseases, from injuries, and they're helping them walk those long distances, sometimes to school. So they're helping kids attend school more often. Sometimes you have to have a pair of shoes as a part of a school uniform. And so our shoes are helping kids have that access to education. And there really is power in those small things. And I'll finish with this. My favorite thing about small things is that everybody can do a small thing. Not everybody can maybe do a big thing, like with what Bill Gates, Bill and Melinda Gates, the ways that they can help, the ways that they can make a difference are gigantic. And not everybody can do that, but everybody can do a small thing. It really does add up to make a big difference.

Ryan Dye (23:19):

Absolutely. As an entrepreneur, you've developed the pursuit incubator. For other entrepreneurs and innovators, can you tell us about that and some of the great products that have been developed through this program?

Kenton Lee (23:32):

Yeah. So this is one of the new areas where Because International is heading. Our mission as much more than just shoes. We're also trying to produce our products where they're being used the most. Right now we produce all of our shoes in Kenya, which we're really excited about. There's a local factory that makes all of our shoes there and we hope to bring production to other areas as well. We just really saw the value of a small product, that product being a part of a good business that's bringing jobs and increased economy to areas that really need it. So we kind of thought, how can we do more of this? And we thought, could we make more products? And we really felt like we could not. From Nampa, Idaho, I really don't know what products make sense for people around the world.

Kenton Lee (24:22):

The only reason I had my shoe idea was because I was right there, in Kenya. There are people all over the world who have great ideas or great products that are going to really meet a need and bring value to their community. And we kind of thought if there's anything we could do to help these global entrepreneurs who have a great idea for a product, we'd love to do it because our big thing is we don't want to see any good idea be wasted. And so last year we launched this incubator where we take global entrepreneurs through an eight week training online. And we worked with 18 entrepreneurs last year. This year, our goal is to work with 30 entrepreneurs. And we just launched our first cohort of 10 entrepreneurs. They're going through it right now.

Kenton Lee (25:11):

Some of my favorite ideas, there's a young man who lives in Uganda. They have this grass that is like a straw basically. And there's a fruit there, almost like a coconut. So for generations, they've used this grass straw to get the juice out of these fruits. And then Tony saw that and he thought, what if I commercialize this? What if I use this as a way to try to replace plastic straws? And so Tony started this idea and then probably about 40 miles away, there's a young woman named Joan, and she noticed that so many people were being affected by malaria in her community. And yet, they were sleeping under a bed net or a mosquito net. So they had enough nets. It wasn't that, but she really thought it was during the day that mosquitoes were biting people and people were getting malaria during the day.

Kenton Lee (26:06):

So she thought what could be a way to keep mosquitoes away from people during the day. And obviously you can't wear a mosquito net all day long. So Joan created a soap, the soap that has these natural oils that repel mosquitoes, that she produces right there in Uganda. So the soap has about a six hour kind of life of mosquito repellent. And she actually sells it in hotels and tourist areas that allows her to then give away these bars of soap in her community. And so we've been so excited to help Joan refine her product and continue to refine that business model as well. And that's where most of our entrepreneurs are at. They either need a little help on the design side for the product, and they're still kind of in the idea stage or the prototype stage, or they've got something great.

Kenton Lee (26:58):

They've got a great product that they've invented and they just aren't quite sure how to fund it. And we're not perfect at this stuff, but we've been doing it for a few years. And again, our hope is that anybody who has an idea for a product that they think could make a difference, if they need help with it, we'd love to help them. Let us know. We'd love to work with anybody and everybody. We're kind of looking for that diamond in the rough entrepreneur and would like to make it happen.

Ryan Dye (27:30):

You basically summed up what CoLab is about as well, because that is our goal.

Kenton Lee (27:36):

Yeah. That's why I'm so excited to connect.

Ryan Dye (27:38):

Is to help young entrepreneurs.

Kenton Lee (27:40):

Yeah, man, I can't wait to talk more, Ryan. We love this stuff. There's a lot of incubators, accelerators and all that. And for us, we really felt like there was a niche that we could fill. And so that is working. We really just work with products. So if someone has an idea for an amazing app or the next great technology, that's not really us, we're not great at that. And then really early stage entrepreneurs. We really work with people that have a kind of a global context to their idea. We've worked with a few people here in the U.S. But for the most part, our entrepreneurs have been in Africa. And so, yeah, we love that little niche and we haven't seen too many others doing that.

Ryan Dye (28:27):

Right.

Kenton Lee (28:27):

But then kind of what we talked about earlier in terms of partnering with other nonprofits and other groups, we're excited, we love partnering on the shoe side. We're excited to begin to develop some partnerships on the entrepreneur side. For one example, there's a great social enterprise accelerator up in Seattle called Fledge and their most recent cohort, they took seven entrepreneurs, but I believe they had over 800 that applied. And so even for us, maybe someone's not quite ready for Fledge.

Ryan Dye (29:03):

Right.

Kenton Lee (29:03):

Maybe someone isn't read, their idea just isn't quite there yet. Hey, that's who we would love to work with. And even with CoLab, maybe someone in one of your pitch competitions, wow, they've got a great idea for a product and you might want to send them our way because maybe we'd be a good fit for what stage they're at. So we're looking forward to building partnerships and really collaborating with a lot of other groups. And again, all of this would be in an effort to not let any good idea be wasted.

Ryan Dye (29:37):

Right. Absolutely. It's a wonderful way of helping to give back and to keep the enthusiasm and energy in the entrepreneurial universe moving forward.

Kenton Lee (29:47):

Yes.

Ryan Dye (29:49):

Like you say, it doesn't have to be that a $50 million app or something.

Kenton Lee (29:54):

Right.

Ryan Dye (29:54):

But more of what's a niche where someone's working on something to fill a need and how to get that to that next stage. That is vitally important as part of the business community to help support that. Because International website offers ways people can help fundraise to fight poverty. And can you tell me a little more about how folks can get involved? You have some really great ideas on fundraising.

Kenton Lee (30:20):

Yeah, and it's something that I said earlier. Really one of the ways that makes a big difference for us, it doesn't have anything to do with money. And that would be connecting us to people who work with kids or entrepreneurs who maybe need some help with their idea. But there are some fun ways to fundraise as well. We actually just went through our biggest fundraiser of the year is something we do in April, it's called Wear a Pair. So anybody who wants to do Wear a Pair, they set up a fundraising page and do that with us. But we also send them a pair of our shoes so that they can wear those shoes kind of during their fundraiser. And that's a fun way to do it.

Kenton Lee (31:05):

But then we also have people set up a fundraising page so that they can take shoes. So I know not a lot of people are traveling right now, but if anyone is going on a mission trip, if anybody works with kids and wants to literally take shoes with them on a trip, you could set up a fundraiser. $20 equals a pair of shoes, and we can fit 50 pairs of shoes in a big duffle bag that we provide. It has wheels and it weighs right at 50 pounds. You could reach out to us and ask for a sample pair of our shoes and we'll send you a sample pair. Again, they adjust five sizes. People always wonder, how does it work? How do you make it grow? And so if anybody's interested in what we're doing, that's sometimes a great way to start. I'll just say one last thing.

Kenton Lee (31:55):

Over the years, we had a lot of people ask if they could buy the shoes just for themselves or their own kids and wear them. And we always said, no, because that really wasn't why we were doing it.

Ryan Dye (32:04):

Right.

Kenton Lee (32:04):

But we had enough people ask us that we did start a commercial side of our growing shoes. So it's actually a separate company that we started. The company is owned by the nonprofit. The company's called GroFive. And for GroFive, we branded it a little bit differently. So those shoes it's the exact same shoes, but we call them Expandals. We've had those for sale on Amazon and on the GroFive website. And then 10% of all revenue goes back to the nonprofit. For $40, you can buy a pair commercially and that every purchase helps support our nonprofit work as well.

Ryan Dye (32:50):

That's excellent. Yeah. I was going to ask about if you had a retail side, because I know people would say, "Well, I want some for myself."

Kenton Lee (32:59):

Yeah, yeah. And truly, we never wanted to do that. I've never been passionate about trying to sell shoes to moms and dads or whoever.

Ryan Dye (33:09):

Sure.

Kenton Lee (33:09):

But once I saw how hard fundraising is and we kind of thought, "Hey, if people want to buy them, if this could be another revenue stream, yeah, let's make that available and see if anybody wants them." And we don't put too much time into it, but we're trying to get a little better at it.

Ryan Dye (33:28):

Sure.

Kenton Lee (33:29):

Yeah, we sell about 50 pairs a month. But we'd love to do more if more people want to buy them, that that only makes a bigger difference for our nonprofit.

Ryan Dye (33:38):

Excellent. Well, Kenton, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. We're looking forward to following Because International and all the great work that you're doing with The Shoe That Grows.

Kenton Lee (33:50):

Yeah. Thanks, Ryan. Appreciate it.

Ryan Dye (33:52):

So some ways that people can get connected with you or your organization would be BecauseInternational.org, TheShoeThatGrows.org and also Kentonlee.com.

Kenton Lee (34:04):

Yeah, yeah. Also Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, feel free to check us out there, Because International or The Shoe That Grows.

Ryan Dye (34:14):

Excellent. Well, thank you so much. Thanks for listening to There to Here. We invite you to check us out on all the various social media platforms and visit our website, CoLabinc.org, to sign up for information on our many upcoming events and the various ways we help promote the spirit of entrepreneurship. If you have comments on today's episode or know someone who would be a great guest on our show, send your suggestions to Ryan@colabinc.org. Special thanks to our producer, Michael Webberley, editing by Tanya Musgrave, and all the CoLab staff. Until next time, be well and God bless.


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