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Two Vietnamese making world’s first shoes from coffee grounds honoured in Forbes' list

August 28, 2020 | 11:33

Two Vietnamese boys in Finland making shoes from coffee grounds and plastic waste have been honored in the Europe list of Forbes's 30 Under 30 with the category of Social Entrepreneurs.

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Two years ago, Jesse Khanh Tran, 28 met Son Chu, 24 at a coffee shop in Helsinki, Finland, and decided to do something to pursue their passion for shoes. With the experience of working for a startup called FactoryFinder previously, the duo launched the brand of Rens Originals shoes.

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Jesse Khanh Tran (L) and his co-founder Son Chu. Photo courtesy of Jesse Khanh Tran.

Initially, instead of being made from coffee grounds and plastic waste, Rens's shoes were made from organic cotton. The duo then did more research and found out that many companies had used coffee grounds to make garments, but no one had ever made shoes with them. Therefore, they decided to choose to make shoes from coffee grounds. Moreover, they thought that if they could do it, they would be making use of a resource that would otherwise go to waste, and providing an alternative to the conventional chemicals used in the fabric industry, according to VNExpress.

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Photo courtesy of Jesse Khanh Tran.

“Coffee grounds are anti-odor, anti-bacteria, and quickly dried. In addition, Finland has the world’s largest coffee consumption and Vietnam has the largest coffee output. We wanted to make shoes which were not only beautiful but also environmentally friendly”, said Khanh Tran.

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Photo courtesy of Jesse Khanh Tran.

Each pair of Rens shoes are made from 300 grams of used coffee grounds (equivalent to the remains of 21 cups of coffee) and six recycled plastic bottles.

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A promotion photo of Rens shoes on its website

Rens's partners collect coffee grounds from convenience stores and coffee shops across Taiwan to make sure they have enough input material. The duo is also expected to shift the production of their unique coffee shoes to Vietnam at the beginning of next year.

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Photo courtesy of Jesse Khanh Tran.

The largest markets of Rens shoes are the US, Germany, UK, and Finland. In the near future, two boys will release the new shoe models made from new recycled materials. At the same time, they have also planned to expand markets in European countries.

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Photo courtesy of Jesse Khanh Tran.

From a small company with only two people, it now has 15 employees from 8 different nationalities. They have been doing extensive research to find greener materials for the Rens shoes, in a bid to extending the lifecycles of many trashed items, not only coffee.

Within one year since its the first shoes delivered to customers, the company has sold nearly 20,000 pairs with a price of 119 USD each.

The 2020 Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe lists 300 young, visionary leaders reinventing business and society from 62 countries in Europe and around the world. They were chosen from over 1,500 entries.
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