“When you truly are on purpose, the people, the opportunities and the resources you need will naturally gravitate toward you”. -Jack Canfield
Have you ever had a dream that seemed impossible and almost crazy? Kathy Wong, an entrepreneur from Australia did. After a career in business, Kathy came out of retirement to start a social enterprise named Moeloco which is a combination of two words, “Moe” derived from the Hawaiian word Moehani, meaning “dream” and “loco” is latin for “crazy”.
“Moeloco is my dream crazy. This dream began when I realized how disconnected humanity had become” says Kathy Wong, founder of Moeloco, a social enterprise dedicated to changing the lives of children living in extreme poverty. When Kathy learned that over 300 million children lack shoes, her entrepreneurial spirit and loving heart sprung to action and she founded Moeloco. Kathy chose flip-flops as her vehicle to fuel her social enterprise. In Australia and other parts of the world, flip-flops are a fun reminder of freedom and inspiration. Kathy jumped on that theme and designed each colorful flop-flop to leave a positive message in the sand such as “Be Happy” or “Love”.
Kathy’s mission is to build a heart-centered community who realize that their consumer dollar has enormous potential and power for positive social impact. Each purchase creates a ripple effect starting with the consumer and positively impacting the lives of underprivileged children and their community.
For each pair of flop-flops, Moeloco will donate one pair of covered canvas shoes to a child living in poverty through their collaboration with the Hope Foundation, an Ireland-based non-profit working to help the street and slum children living primarily in Kolkata, India. Each pair of donated shoes protects a chid’s feet, and also helps change their future by ensuring they can attend school.
I love the work Kathy is doing to give back and create an amazing community of compassion and inspiration. I had the opportunity to ask Kathy a few questions about her life and the mission behind Moeloco. Here is what she has to say.
Me: Tell me a little bit about yourself. What is your background and what do you love?
Kathy: I have a degree in visual communications which I used to start three businesses in the area of design branding, marketing and publishing. I am passionate about community, inspiring children to be change makers, love 80’s music and hate chokes. After retiring for ten years, I decided to re-enter the workforce as a social entrepreneur where I am making a difference to children in poverty with my business Moeloco.
Me: What inspired you to start Moeloco and when did you launch?
Kathy: When I learnt that over 300 million children in the world have no shoes and some of them could not attend school without shoes for fear of their bare feet spreading disease and that some of them were dying from foot borne disease, my heart felt like it was breaking. I had to help! I launched November 25, 2014.
Check out this short three-minute video on Moeloco. It is beautiful!
Me: Why did you choose flip-flops?
Kathy: I wanted a product that potentially has lots of users, which flip-flops do. Mostly though, I felt leaving inspirational messages in the sand was very appealing and is unique. Using shoes seemed to be a perfect vehicle to deliver this story of our cause, kids with no shoes.
Me: How does your business model works? (Buy a pair, give a pair). Also where are the shoes designed and made?
Kathy: Moeloco designs ( i.e. me and our designer in Sydney ) and manufactures a rubber flip-flop that leaves positive messages in the sand such as I am peace, be grateful, etc. For every pair sold, Moeloco donates one pair of canvas shoes to a child in need that then allows them to attend school and protect their health. The flip-flops are manufactured in China and the shoes we donate to the children in India.
Me: Where do you sell the flip-flops?
Kathy: We sell online through our own commerce store, through third-party online stores, Amazon US, and a number of retail shops. (See the end of the post for links).
Me: What kind of impact have you seen since you started Moeloco?
Kathy: We have impacted over 5,500 lives of children through our collaboration with the Hope Foundation. The Hope Foundation was founded in 1999 by Maureen Forrest of Cork, Ireland, in order to help and support the street and slum children. HOPE’s aim is to be, “an organisation dedicated to promoting the protection of street and slum children primarily in Kolkata (Calcutta), and the most underprivileged in India, to promote immediate and lasting change in their lives.” 15 years on, HOPE has reached out to almost 30,000 children through education alone, over 200,000 individuals through HOPE’s community healthcare programmes as well as being the primary care giver to over 2,500 children on a daily basis.
Me: What has been the most challenging aspect of launching a social benefit company?
Kathy: My own self-care and self-belief. One of the biggest causes of a social enterprise failing is the founder burning out. I had to learn to dig deep into my own self doubts and feelings of whether or not I was good enough to be able to step into the spotlight to do this work. Whilst I had a life of running businesses , I did not know how to do most of the aspects in Moeloco and I had to really become a public figure which again I was not too comfortable with initially.
Me: What has been the most rewarding?
Kathy: Visiting India for the first time in my life and seeing the projects that we are contributing to and meeting the children themselves. The tears, the smiles melted my heart!
Me: Anything else fun or interesting you want to add about yourself or the business?
Kathy: If you have any interest at all in doing a social business, just do it! Don’t worry how to do it, because if you have a strong enough reason to want to make a difference , all the tools, help you need will find you!