Some of you die-hard Babarazzi fans may remember an article we did back in May 2012 on Shiva Rea and her endorsement of those copper-toed slip-ons known as Juil Sandals. Really, we were most excited by this video:
Despite what some may believe, we have a genuine interest in what makes commercial-minded people tick. Personally, I’m fascinated with the ways in which a person will want to take a specifically “spiritual” or “transcendental” idea and try and link it up to something that can make a few bucks. I like tracking the moves by which a person makes a shoe “a conduit for enlightenment” or a yoga mat “a potential friend on the path to awakening.” There’s some real chutzpah in there that I find truly fascinating! Not even in a critical way. More like a, “Really? You think you can pull that off?” kinda way.
So it went with wanting to interview self-proclaimed “Shameless promoter of Juil sandals,” Will Knight, from Juil Sandals, a footwear company that makes a lot out of selling the transcendent aspects of life through a pair of flip-flops.
“Our mission is very simple – we want you to look better, feel better and be better™. This all starts from the ground up, wearing our unique and remarkable styles that provide you with your own special connection that simply gives you a smile. Know that blissful feeling when you’re carefree, in the moment, and at peace with yourself? People are discovering that’s what Juil can do for you. Juil encompasses those moments well-spent in life.”
It seems Juil’s main agenda has to do with the idea of being “connected,” so much so that they’ve actually trademarked its partial usage:
The problem was, at the time the interview seemed to fall a bit flat. It felt really uninspired, and so we shelved it. However, reading over it the other day, we started to wonder if maybe the short simplicity of the exchange really did point to something. There’s something revealing in the exchange. Something telling about the way Knight answers. I remember that it took him a while to respond to questions. At the time I wondered if he was running his answers by someone else, but didn’t get a chance to ask. Anyway, I’ll leave it up to you to decide.
AN INTERVIEW WITH JUIL SANDALS
THE BABARAZZI: Ok. So you obviously saw our article a week ago….
JUIL SANDALS: I did and thought it was really interesting. Had never heard of yoga bleaching as a term before. However, the idea had occurred to me.
BABS: How do you understand the term? Is it relevant to your work at all?
JS: I understand it how you define it in at least a couple of your posts. I don’t think it’s relevant to our work really. When we started Juil, we identified yoga practitioners as some of the people that would be most accepting of our sandals. We had the opportunity to meet some great people like Shiva [Rea] who fell in love with our sandals and wanted to help us.
BABS: How did you come to meet Shiva Rea?
JS: We wanted to help each other I should say, as we donate to her Global Mala charity through our sales.
BABS: But, how does one get the shoes in her hand? Or, rather, on her feet, as it were?
JS: Well, when we started we signed up to display our product at yoga conferences/festivals and a wide variety of other health and wellness related events. We met Shiva at the NY Yoga Journal conference last April.
We’ve had the opportunity to meet and show our sandals to many enthusiastic people through these events.
BABS: Judging from the website it seems as if the yoga community is your primary target (from a marketing perspective). For instance, all seven of the people on the home page are listed as “yoga teachers.” Would you say the yoga market is your primary focus?
JS: It certainly has been. I’ll offer a bit of a back story to explain why:
The idea for Juil sandals is the brainchild of Gyrotonic founder Juliu Horvath. You can check it out for yourself. Anyway, it is similar in theory to the physical asana practice of Yoga. People that practice Gyrotonic are in tune to what the sandals (or simply putting your bare feet on the ground) will do for you. The gyrotonic community is small and yoga/pilates/wellness communities in general was a good next step.
BABS: Can you say more about how Gyrotonics and asana practice are similar?
JS: I can only speak from my personal experiences having practiced both, yoga significantly more. Anyway, they are both about positioning and breath. Gyrotonic focuses on fluid arching motions, but still incorporates similar breathing that you would focus on while practicing yoga. When Juliu created Gyrotonic, he originally called it Yoga for Dancers.
BABS: Gyrotonics is certainly a fascinating practice, and one pretty closely associated with dancers. Has Juil Sandals ever been marketed towards the dance community specifically? It seems that there’s a natural link there.
JS: Yes, absolutely. We have advertised in Conscious Dancer magazine and exhibited at a couple of Dance conferences. Our response from dancers has been great.
BABS: It does seem that your focus is mostly on the yoga community, however. Would you agree with that? Has there been a better response from yoga practitioners?
JS: Most definitely a better response from yoga practitioners. The response we’ve gotten from within the yoga community has been fantastic, plain and simple.
BABS: Why do you think that is the case? Any ideas?
JS: It’s all about the connection we have to the earth. Most people don’t understand the healing power that the earth offers. Yogis, for the most part, do. Feeling grounded and rooted to the earth below you is something that is familiar to most yogis.
BABS: Do you feel more connected to the earth when you wear Juil sandals?
JS: As opposed to wearing shoes with solid rubber soles? Abs0lutely. I feel MOST connected when I’m barefoot, but that isn’t always practical.
BABS: Can you articulate what you mean by “connected?”
JS: In direct, skin to earth, contact. When we have this connection, our bodies are taking in an abundance of free electrons that are omnipresent on the earth’s surface. We tend to be mostly insulated from this energy throughout the course of daily life.
BABS: What about for the tiny Italian/Jewish grannies? They may not get the whole “electrons are omnipresent” part. How do Juil sandals facilitate connection to the earth in granny terms?
JS: It can be challenging to explain it in terms that everyone will understand and accept. I like to ask people how it makes them feel to walk barefoot on the grass or the beach. It’s a wonderful experience for many reasons, one being that you have this energetic connection.
BABS: I’m more interested in how the sandals specifically facilitate that experience, as you said it does.
JS: Well, the copper points you see at the toes and heel run through the sole. This creates a conductive channel between your foot and whatever surface you are standing on.
BABS: I noticed on the website that the kids featured in the Soles4Souls ad are holding regular sneakers and not Juil sandals. Can you state breifly how Juil works with Soles4Souls?
JS: Sure. We donate a portion of every pair sold to Soles4Souls. They use this donation to promote shoe drives where people donate lightly worn or unused shoes. We are not donating a pair of Juil sandals specifically, but are thrilled to be partners with them. They really are an AMAZING group of passionate people, and a pleasure to work with.