WHAT WE DO
CHUPL was started in order to create a tangible product that connects customers through actions that are both environmentally and socially responsible, both in the environment and into the communities in which we live. For this reason, all of our footwear begins with a recycled tire as the sole and then ends with the profits from every pair being used to support people whose lives, like the tires, had been discarded. CHUPL is more than just a footwear company – it is an idea plus an action that communicates that everyone in this world, regardless of culture, economic status, or physical condition, is valuable and should be given both respect and dignity. This is why we exist – this is our action.
Just as the story behind each pair of CHUPL shoes and flip flops begins long before they ever meet your feet, so our story and out history started long before our company was formed. In 1982, my father, Phil Sebastian moved with his wife and two small children to Helena, Montana where he started his own tire shop. He worked hard – six days a week, under the type of pressure that only small business owners face during their start-up years. Mom also worked hard as a nurse on the weekends to help the family stay afloat, which put Dad on duty to watch my older brother and I on Saturdays at the tire shop. My brother and I grew up at that shop. While we were young we played in the warehouse hiding and building forts inside the stacks of tires, as we grew older, we began to work behind the shop cutting and stacking junk tires from my Dad’s shop, as well as, from different shops around our town. Tires, specifically junk tires, are a part of my history; they are a part of who I am.
About the time I was in the 4th grade a man from Kenya came to my school to present the cultural, economic, and spiritual differences between our two countries. Third-world living conditions were difficult for me to comprehend. “What do you men? Kids don’t go to school, have running water in their homes, watch T.V. or wear decent clothes?” My mind couldn’t imagine a world where what seemed like such basic human rights alluded children. Yet within the portrait that he was painting, he said something that I did understand – a visual description of African footwear that was etched in my mind and has never faded. He said, “People in our part of the world use junk tires to make flip-flops.” There in that classroom an idea was impressed in my mind – one that i never discarded.
My wife and I had been living in India for several years, and in 2011 we became seriously involved in the lives of 24 Indian children that had been abandoned or orphaned. Somewhere amidst the sights, sounds, and even smells living everyday among people in need, my desire to re-purpose tire treads as the soles for footwear was rekindled. I wanted to make something tangible, like a shoe or a flip flop, that communicates the idea that people everywhere should be given dignity and respect. Because when I see a child, who is without a family and is destitute and poor, I don’t just see his or her current situation; I see the potential that he or she has in life – potential to succeed and to flourish. I wanted the profits from our sales to have a real and immediate effect on the lives of disadvantaged people in India and throughout the world. At CHUPL we use junk tires not just to be environmentally responsible, but also to communicate that people’s lives should not be measured by their current situation but by the potential that can be realized when their lives have been invested in and re-purposed in order to thrive and prosper.
– Tim Sebastian, creator of CHUPL