[PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED] Interview With Juil Sandals

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:

Screen shot 2013-05-05 at 5.25.08 PM

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.


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.


  1. “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?”

    Thank you for this. Though neither a mother or a grandmother, I am getting very close in age to that demographic, if not reached it already …

    Thank you again, BABS …

  2. Garuda

    Your Honor, Please let the record reflect that the witness was non-responsive in his answers.

  3. I’m sorry, did he say something? I must have missed it…Maybe I will read through it again – Not!

  4. Greenpoint

    That’s a lot of poppycock!…

    his responses I mean…

  5. Anna

    A company, designing shoes that make you “feel more connected to the earth”, donates to a charity giving “normal” shoes to people and thereby disconnecting them from the earth (I suppose the recipients where barefoot before)? love it.

    • Kinda reminds me of the drive to donate used yoga mats to Haiti after the earthquake … so they could have something to sleep on … and by that, I don’t mean doing Savasana …

  6. Energy flow technology or not, they are expensive flip-flops. It is a good thing that the free electrons are free, at least.

  7. Wondering

    But what if you are globe trotting yoga ambassador spreading the good word throughout the world…and you find yourself standing in raw sewage while proselytizing, can one turn off the conduit flow in such circumstances?

  8. missbernklau

    Wow this guy could’ve been a politician, he gave the same non-answer 10 different ways! For a minute I thought he was actually making a point, he’s good!

    “The gyrotonic community is small and yoga/pilates/wellness communities in general was a good next step.”

    He sort of shows his cards here, and there’s a difference between “marketing to the dance community” and merely advertising their product (in a campaign that primarily depicts “yogis” sporting their shoes) in a professional dancer’s publication, I’m guessing he’s not aware of that difference.

    Well, I’m hoping he isn’t aware of the difference, because the alternative is that he thinks we’re stupid, and in that case, I’m insulted.

    In any case, it’s very interesting that companies (companies with very expensive products with very questionable work/production ethics) like Juil and others have done so well marketing to “the Yoga community”, a community of people that are supposed to be practicing a philosophy that renounces amassing excess material goods.

    I still don’t understand the purpose of these shoes.

    I also don’t understand how flip flips are ever allowed to cost more than $10 *maybe* $20 at the most anyway, but, then I remember the “supply/demand” thing and “capitalism” and “they can charge that much because there are people out there that will pay for it.” So, I guess I “understand” how they exist, it’s just that their existence is confounding.

    So, I like to be barefoot in general (barefoot or wearing boots, go figure), and, whenever possible, I’ll go without shoes (which isn’t as often as I would live living in Long Island and working in NYC), so the concept of the shoes is initially appealing, I guess, but, lets examine just how useless they really are.

    Now, if these flip flops better “connect” you to the earth, yet you live in a city, where the ground and “the earth” are actually separated by a thick layer of concrete, wouldn’t you just be “connecting” to concrete most of the time if you wore these? And, if you did live in a rural or suburban area without much pavement, why would you wear these flip flops when you could just go barefoot? They just seem so incredibly purposeless to me. Not to mention the price for the amount of materials used (high-quality or otherwise) is unjustifiable. You’d get the same effect and save yourself $125 by finding 4-8 pennies (from before 1980, because those are made of 95% copper, the later ones are mostly zinc) and crazy-gluing them to the bottom of your shoes.

    Also, whatever happened to “brand presence” aren’t they diluting their “identity” by giving away off-brand shoes to developing countries? Even so, at least Tom’s donate a pair of Tom’s, (not that I’d buy those shoes either) but, this practice of not even donating their own brand shoes “for a cause” just comes off as “cheap”, no? For a company that charges over $100 for each pair of shoes, you’d think they’d be good for it.

    I also can’t find any information on their page about where the shoes are made/manufactured, I’m so curious if they are being made by people receiving a living wage in decent working conditions. For a company that’s all about “connection” to the earth and other humans, I would hope so…but the pessimist in me tells me not to hold my breath.

    Okay I think I’ve spent enough time pondering the existence of something so worthless.

  9. jorge

    im just amazed with how low the bar is set to call yourself an “activist” these days. dorothy day would piss in their curry.

  10. cynthia

    B: You had too much sun. This should have stayed in the closet. xxc

  11. Yoga Whelp

    I’m not sure there is anything in here that the ill-fated “Shoe Bomber” would disagree with. Feeling more connected to himself, and to those around him, through every exploding electron in his feet, was clearly his life’s mission. I tend to view yoga commerce as New Age spiritual terrorism, though. I feel like I’m about to be taken hostage every time I walk into a yoga studio. Sadie Nardini? She’s like Patty Hearst.

    • amphibi1yogini

      “New Age spiritual terrorism”

      Nailed it once again.
      Those yoga teachers have you in their cro$$hairs. $$$ walking in.

  12. Gyrotonic is very nichty is it any wonder they would market a nitchy shoe?

  13. the moment already came

    A while back I tried to interview that $20k “spiritual cube” guy hoping to send the email chain to the Babarazzi as a one year anniversary present, but he wouldn’t bite. I wish you could get a chat with him. I would make popcorn for that shit.

    • That would have been a Christmas miracle, “the moment.” What a wonderful surprise! Unfortunately, we spaced on our one year anniversary. Had lots of ideas and plans for the whole week, but…well…you know how we are….

  14. Yoga Whelp

    How can ANYONE possibly try to slap a trademark label on the expression “Stay Connected.” Bikram Choudhury, with his 26 poses, is an amateur rip-ff artist compared to these commercial fascists.

    • Garuda

      Sorry YogaWhelp: I trademarked the name:”amateur rip-ff artist” after completing my 200 hour Anu$ara Ytt 200. I figured it would come in handy…That’ll be $300.00 please

      • Yoga Whelp

        Actually, that’s why I spelled it “rip-ff” not “rip-off.” But I realize you might have add all the options covered. Friend or Fiend?

        • Garuda

          I would tell you but I would prefer that you read it in my new book : “I Am Yoga and So Can You”…available is paperback at a boutique yoga salon near you.

  15. I remember a few years back coming across Shiva Rea peddling Visa’s Enlightenment card. The “enlightenment” card is (was? Does it still even exist?) so problematic in so many ways and seeing her in some yoga pose selling the thing was my first clue that it is less about yoga and more about the dollars for her. So this kind of promotion with these sandals doesn’t surprise me at all.

  16. Yoga Whelp


    I am God™

  17. When I want to feel connected to the earth, I just walk around barefoot.

  18. Yoga Whelp

    Stay connected…….with dance. Don’t simplify your life — enrich it.™
    Shoes — by Gregory.©

  19. Mark

    with the copper insert in the heal it will really get your kundalini going …just go find a lightening storm!

  20. novecho

    Mark has a point….talk about connection when you step on a live wire


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