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Turning tires into sandals to help Haiti

Posted at 9:47 PM, Dec 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-18 09:17:03-05

West Palm Beach native Julie Colombino never thought her idea of turning used tires into sandals would end up getting the attention of one of the world's most known fashion designers.

Julie Colombino first came up with the idea when she volunteered in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

"Within days of the earthquake, women were asking me for jobs," Colombino said.

Colombino met more women who needed jobs and also saw lots of used tires.

"No one had shoes. No one had anything because they lost everything from the earthquake. So it came together where I thought lets just make sandals from tires," Colombino said.

Colombino started the non profit organization Rebuild Globally and a shoe factory called Deux Mains.

The shoe factory started employing four local people. Now, they employ 21.

"We are able to give them jobs which allow these women to buy homes and put their children in school," Colombino said.

Colombino's story of giving actually started when she was a little girl in West Palm Beach where she worked at her Dad's popular Colombino Bakery.

"I remember my dad going down after Hurricane Andrew and driving bread down to survivors," Colombino said.

Colombino's non-profit got a huge boost when fashion designer Kenneth Cole took notice.

"Kenneth has changed everything about our business and who we are," Colombino said.

Colombino says when Kenneth Cole heard about the West Palm native's non-profit he decided the make his own line of shoes in the Haitian factory with Haitian workers.

"He taught us to use leather in a better way. He taught us we are not just a flip flop line but we could be something better and now we are a part of this fashion community," Colombino said.

If you would like to buy the shoes or learn more about the non profit, visit RebuildGlobally.org.