“Water is the source of life and connects us all. Water flows and carves its own path. Water is the purifier. Without fail, a dip in the ocean will wash away negative vibes from a stressful day. The bottom line is that WATER SETS US FREE.”
This is concept behind Freewaters, a progressive footwear brand dedicated to those who chart their own path in life. The company designs casual footwear for active and travel lifestyles. Their line of sandals and shoes are suitable for those who like to do board sports, spend time outdoors and travel.
TallGirl by Freewaters is a sandal that feels like a running shoe. It has extra thick cushioning of a maximalist running shoe while being lightweight and water-friendly.
Founded by surf buddies and innovators Eli Marmar and Martin Kim in 2010, Freewaters started their journey in a tiny 600 square foot design studio in San Francisco. As industrial-designers, Marmar and Kim knew they could bring comfort innovation to the casual footwear market. As avid surfers, both have a deep respect for the healing and meditative power of water.
Freewaters Co-Founder Martin Kim. Photo courtesy of Freewaters
But as young entrepreneurs and global citizens, they knew that just creating comfortable footwear was not enough to get the attention of the market. Beyond the business, the brand’s founders wanted to address a basic human need: access to clean drinking water.
Beyond the promise of comfy footwear (which is backed by a lifetime warranty), the sale of each pair contributes to clean drinking water projects. Freewaters devotes 1% of its top line (gross) sales to fund clean drinking water programs globally.
“From day one, every pair of Freewaters has supported clean drinking water projects. It is the marriage of crafting footwear and transforming lives through the healing power of water.”
Currently, they have mobilized projects in Kenya, Haiti, California and just recently, in the Philippines, where they gave coastal communities life-giving water filter systems. Freewaters chose the municipality of Casiguran in Aurora to be its beneficiary since the community was badly hit by Typhoon Lando (International name: Koppu), the worst storm to hit the Philippines in 2015. Nearly 100% of houses and infrastructure were damaged when Lando made landfall, including facilities giving access to clean drinking water.
The brand recently held a #FeelsGood to be Part of 1000″ in-store campaign. For every pair purchased, a customer could sign their name and pin it on the island displayed in Freewaters stores. A total of 1,000 pairs of footwear were needed for the campaign to take place.
I feel really fortunate to have taken part in the media launch as it was a meaningful trip that gave back to the community. Casiguran is a beautiful and relatively unknown surfing spot in the northern part of Aurora province, home to indigenous Dumagat communities. Located 121 kilometers north-east of Baler, many areas here require long land and sea travel to reach and are difficult for ordinary travelers to get to. Dipontian was one of the coastal communities in Casiguran that was severely affected by Typhoon Lando.
It’s always the communities who have the least who are the most generous and hospitable. Our group was warmly welcomed by the community, with students from the Dipontian School performing special dance numbers in honor of the occasion. Freewaters presented the community with the water filters and demonstrated the proper techniques to use it.
While the older members were very thankful for the water filters, the kids were more fascinated by the drone camera brought in by Freewaters Co-founder Martin Kim.
We proceeded to another coastal community located in a more remote part of Casiguran for a boodle fight lunch and water filter turn-over for its barangay.
More than being just a footwear brand, Freewaters stands on its commitment to transform lives with water. Their philosophy revolves all around what #feelsgood, whether it’s the satisfaction of knowing you’ve helped a community or the simple joy of being near the sea.
For me, what felt good most about the event was seeing the smiles on the kid’s faces and hearing from the company founders that this isn’t just a one-time deal. While the water filters themselves are expected to last 10-15 years, Freewaters plans to check up and see how they’re doing in the future.
All in all, over 2,200 people in Casiguran are expected to benefit from the filters that will give them access to clean drinking water.
This trip made me realize that as tourists, we can all make a difference when we travel. Many other remote communities around the Philippines need other types of assistance, whether it’s school supplies for kids, books, medicine or sustainable livelihood. I hope to engage in more meaningful trips like this in the future and give back something whenever I travel. Let’s #ChangeEverything.
The #FeelsGood event (in line with Freewaters #ChangeEverything CSR program) is sponsored by RES-TOE-RUN, ROX, Grind, Cobra, Summit, Brew Kettle, Great Escapes, Brush Stroke, Primer, Freewaters, NOA Watergear and Go Pro.
WHERE TO BUY FREEWATERS FOOTWEAR:
In Metro Manila, Freewaters footwear is available in Res|Toe|Run Trinoma, Ermita, Glorietta, Festival, Magnolia, Shangri-la, Fishermall, ATC, Nuvali, Centrio, Abreeza, Ayala Cebu; Grind UP Town; R.O.X. BHS; Level 2 Trinoma Kiosk (between Quiksilver, and Columbia Sportswear kiosks).
Freewaters footwear is also also available in Res|Toe|Run branches in Butuan, Laoag, Golden Avenue Square, Robinsons Palawan, KCC Marbel, Robinson’s Dumaguete, KCC General Santos, Robinson’s Tacloban and GRIND Cebu.