Saint John Shoemaker Designs Line of Insoles Made of Natural Materials

Prototypes of the  Chenna Baree Ortho-Natural Insole. Image: Submitted.

SAINT JOHN– A Saint John entrepreneur and maker of Chenna Baree shoes is expanding his business with a new product.

Paul Kasdan is working on a line of all-natural shoe insoles called the Chenna Baree Ortho-Natural Insole, a proprietary molded insole made to compete on comfort and be better for the environment.

Related: New Brunswick Shoemaker’s Earth-Conscious Shoes Off on the Right Foot

The insole uses proprietary forms and processes to mold different densities of felt together with natural rubber and jute fiber. The result is an all-natural product which Kasdan says has superior breathability, custom moldability, and anti-bacterial properties.

Kasdan says he got the idea for creating a line of insoles when he was working on the design for the Chenna Baree shoes.

“I just got inspired in the process of designing the Chenna Baree shoes, I got informed about using rubber and I was wondering whether it would be possible to use natural materials instead of all these plastics,” says Kasdan.

“There’s a big market for off-the-shelf insoles and they’re all made out of plastic. I guess inspired by trying to do my part for the environment and trying to do my part for local manufacturing and trying to create something that I think has a high intrinsic value.”

What makes the Chenna Baree different from other insoles currently on the market is that they’re 100 per cent biodegradable.

“You could literally put them in the green bin when you’re done with them,” says Kasdan. “The second differentiator is that they’re made using wool, which is an amazing fibre. We still use wool in orthopedics, but it’s very expensive by comparison to plastic.

“The challenge was to see if it would be possible to actually use a very expensive material and develop a process that would make it time-efficient to be able to compete with plastic insoles.”

Kasdan believes he’s found that process. He’ll start by making the insoles at his own orthopedic shop, but the hope is to go bigger from there.

“Just to get started, I’ll use that shop’s facilities,” he says. “But my idea is to start a little production facility somewhere.”

Kasdan has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the first batch of insoles. Donors to the campaign can get insoles at a discounted price.

“The funds for that are really going to establish my first production run. Which means getting all the materials and equipment necessary to do my first production run,” says Kasdan. “I’m also hoping to get feedback from my early supporters. I have to get it out there to test it and validate it.”

The goal is to be on shelves of retail partners within 18 months. He pictures partnering with more high-end athletic and outdoor lifestyle retailers. The insoles will retail for $56.