Luc Houle: Founder of Johnny Footwear – Ep. 76

Video Highlights:

About Luc Houle & Johnny Footwear:

Luc Houle is the creator of Johnny Footwear. This man just had a successful Kickstarter, getting funding for his eco-friendly, biodegradable shoes.

It’s no secret that the billions of shoes around the world mostly end up in landfills, where they will take more than 1,000 years to decompose. How many pairs of shoes do you own? Yep, that should tell you how big of a problem this is. Rather than just bitch about it, Luc created a fully biodegradable, cruelty-free shoe with a twist.

Not only will the shoe completely biodegrade if you bury it, but it will also grow an apple tree in its place! Inspired by Johnny Appleseed, let’s hear how Luc turned a truly novel idea into a reality.

Full Unedited Audio Conversation:

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04:58 – “Yeah, but so I named the company Johnny after Johnny Appleseed, who’s also known as John Statman, and one of the company’s goals now is to exceed the amount of trees that he planted when he was alive.”

08:13 – “It’s you know, it’s one of those things where I think the world needs a little bit more of this kind of initiative in all aspects. So, if we can find ways to make the majority of the products, we consume biodegradable and then eliminate plastics altogether, that would be the ideal situation, right?”

09:46 – “And, you know, the first thing that a lot of people do ask you, right, is this going to fall apart on my feet. What’s up with that? So, it was really important that I be super clear, and I repeated as many times as I can, is not going to fall apart on your feet, don’t worry.”

09:46 – “You’re not going to turn into Groot as you’re as you’re running through the room.

11:44 – “It’s not a great marketing tactic to show something covered mold.”

17:49 – “It’s important that the people that we work with align with our values, because otherwise, what’s the point in making these products. Right. I don’t want to just create, like, a good quality of life for, you know, for our office out here. I’d want to make sure that we’re creating good quality of life for everybody involved in the project.”

19:38 – “I remember being a kid and planning a dog walking business when I was like nine, which was weird because I was allergic to dogs, but I was like, hey, this is something that’s needed.”

23:50 – “But when I was defining my values, I honestly, like three or four years ago, I started defining my values. And I start realizing that, at least for me, like a big part of why I do what I do is I want to leave the world a better place than when I came in.”

25:00 (Ross) – “So there’s always this tension, I think, between business economic pursuits and making the world a better place. And it’s this intersection that I’m so, so fascinated by because I think so many people believe that it’s one or the other.”

25:32 (Ross) – “So, I’m very fascinated about the intersection of people who realize that, yes, you can make money while still doing something better than it was done before. And for me personally, I think that’s the coolest thing.”

26:34 – “So, I would kind of say that its actually more profitable to do things right, or to make things sustainable and to do things right off the bat, because you’re saving yourself a lot of clean up later on or possibly negative press or whatever by implementing processes when you’re still new as the company.”

29:58 – “And that’s really the goal of branding, is to let the world know what you stand for and who you are.”

31:27 – “It’s one thing to say, hey, my shoe biodegrades. Some people are hey cool. Like, that’s pretty sweet. It’s another thing to say my shoes grow into apple trees.”

34:20 – “I don’t regret anything that I’ve done or left behind, because I still keep it in my life.”

36:52 – “It’s important to realize what you’re good at, and then really maximize that. So, you know, I’m good at the business processes, but I’m not good at everything. When it comes to accounting. I’m terrible. Like I’m absolutely terrible. So, you know, I’ve got accountants for that.”

39:27 – “The most challenging thing about that, is that at first, the journey up towards where you want to go is kind of breaking your own mindset.”

39:57 – “It’s a lot of work. It’s just a lot of sitting there grinding away and doing the things that are probably not scalable, you know, but that is important at this stage to get up to that level where you can start hiring all the right people in the right places to start automating those processes for you.”

41:45 – “Well, what I would say to anybody who struggles with getting that motivation, is put yourself in a position where no matter what, you have to do it right. Because for me, like, what really helped was, once I had that attraction, that motivation, I started spending a lot of money on the business, to be honest. And I was like, I can’t dump $10,000 plus into something and not give it 110%.”

44:29 – “But if you’re not excited about it, and the people aren’t getting excited about it, maybe you need to shift and adjust and pivot what you’re working on until you find that magic spot.”

45:05 – “I wish it was easy to be honest. Like the crazy part is once the ball was rolling, I was already three-quarters of the way through the Kickstarter, so it took a lot to get it up and running.”

49:08 – “To get out in front of the world and be like, hey, this is me, this is what I’m doing, it’s a lot of pressure, but if I wasn’t going to do it, the project wasn’t even going to succeed. And that’s the kind of motivation that you need to really get things done and it gets you out of your comfort zone.”

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