As a young boy, I loved being outdoors. Luckily, I grew up in California, the land of Yosemite Valley and Muir Woods. I often retreated to the forest to sleep in a small tent under the stars. I made camp alongside a running river, and woke up before the dawn, to spend the morning fly fishing.
I admired naturalists like Henry David Thoreau. I wanted to connect with nature by living a simple life close to the earth, balanced, just like him. I desired to experience my own Walden.
Years later, I developed an affection for the ocean, too. I began surfing at fourteen, finding my place among the seals and sharks of Southern California.
Around the same time, I read Dove, a biography by Robin Lee Graham. At sixteen years old, Graham sailed around the world, and all alone. He’d grown up in Southern California, in fact, just ten blocks away from my house. When Graham departed for sea, he set sail from Ala Wai Harbor, in Hawaii. After two and a half years at sea in a boat all of twenty-four feet long, he landed at Long Beach Harbor, in California.
A reporter asked him, “What was the one piece of wisdom you learned out at sea that you can share with the world?”
“At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much,” he said.
When I turned nineteen years old, I purchased a small boat. I lived aboard for the next three years, learning how to live with less.
Later in life, I raised a beautiful son on a farm on Orcas Island, Washington. We hand-reared farm animals and tended a small garden. I split four cords of wood each winter to fill the iron stove – the only heat source for our farmhouse.
Eventually, we found a classic wooden boat, twenty-four feet long, just like Graham’s boat. It was on the other side of the country, in Massachusetts. I had the boat trucked across the country, then loaded onto a ferry, and finally, driven up to our farm. We had a big red barn on the property, built in the 1930s, and it became our workshop. I spent two summers under the eves of that old barn, working to restore that old boat.
"All good things are wild, and free" – Thoreau
For the majority of my adult life, I was a serial entrepreneur. One of my first ventures was called White Wash, a clothing line for surfers. It was thrilling to be in the fast-moving currents of fashion, apparel, and design. Somewhere along the way, however, I took a detour of sorts. I ended up investing thirty-five years of my life in real estate.
I moved to Portland, Oregon, and while there, I started a real estate and technology company. After five years, I found myself overworked by a life that was profitable and thriving but at a significant cost to my health.
Around the same time, I began to feel a strong pull back to nature, to the land and the ocean. I was shopping for groceries at People’s Natural Food Store when a flyer caught my eye. It was an invitation to a sandal-making class in the park. I thought to myself, I have to do this.
I sat on the ground and learned about the heritage of the huarache sandal while holding the raw materials of the earth in my hands. I loved that minimal elements and a sustainable process could make a durable, and beautiful, product.
I also realized how far away I had drifted from living a simple life close to the earth. My health was anything but balanced. Thankfully, I awakened to my demise, and even said aloud to myself, “I don’t want to die.” Instinctively, I picked up the phone to call my friend, John, who lived in Hawaii. I needed refuge and time to rest.
When we hung up the phone, I said out loud to no one but myself, “I don’t want to cut my hair.” As it turns out, long hair is a big deal for Native Americans. Our hair acts as an antenna, activating intuition and spirituality. So, I haven’t cut my hair since making my first pair of sandals.
A few weeks later, I flew to the Big Island of Hawaii. I wore my new sandals around the island. Nearly every day, locals and tourists would say, “I love your sandals.” Before long, other folks – the travelers, wanderers, artists, poets, musicians and nature lovers – began to ask me, “Would you make me a pair of sandals?”
That’s when I decided to move to Hawaii. I sold my house, purchased a VW Eurovan, and traveled the Big Island for the next seven months. Swimming in the ocean. Playing the ukulele and the flute. Learning about the culture of Hawaii. Most of all, I enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life.
On the island, I live in a quaint upcountry home with a little cat named Tiki and dog named Ginger.
Since making that first pair of sandals, it’s as if the universe has been at work, restoring all of my dreams. Once again, I’m diving deeper into the currents of fashion, apparel, and design. At Good Earth Sandals, we weave our spirits into the sole of each sandal to share all the comfort, beauty, and freedom that we enjoy. We are so excited for you to feel the good earth under your feet, just like we do.