Thank you SoleRebels
for providing me with products to review, free of charge,
and for sponsoring this giveaway.
These are my own honest opinions.

solerebels will make you feel good

Once upon a time, there was a driven and passionate woman who decided she wanted to make the world a better place. What a great idea, right? But how does one go about it in concrete terms? Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu knew exactly what needed to happen. She wanted to start a business that would hire and train those that were considered unemployable and that would showcase the art and heritage of her country, Ethiopia. Not only that, she wanted her products to be made from locally sourced, organic or bio-based materials as well as recycled materials, making them as eco-friendly as possible.

solerebels logo smallWith these ambitious principles in mind, she decided to create soleRebels in 2004. This brand offers a new twist on the traditional “selate” and “barabasso” shoes. The sole of these shoes were made from recycled car tire and have been around in Ethiopia for a long long time. Bethlehem decided to embrace this heritage and expertise and launched a unique collection of footwear that are both authentically local and universal at the same time.

solerebels products

Bethlehem created something that was totally unique at the time (and is now part of a larger dynamic empowering movement across Ethiopia) where it is understood that in order to achieve sustainable and lasting development that will benefit local people, the focus should really be to empower people to set up their own businesses, work within their own communities to create unique products, and allow them to profit from it. It’s nothing revolutionary, really. It’s what most developed countries have been doing for a long time but in African countries where many depend on international aid, it really sets Bethlehem’s business model apart from the rest.

solerebels bethlehem_at_factory

It also stems from that that all workers receive a fair wage. Actually, it’s better than a fair wage since the average SoleRebels worker earns 4 to 5 times the legal minimum wage and over 3 times the industry average. This clearly shows how the focus of the brand is on making a better, healthier, more powerful community, rather than making only the owner and managers richer.

Its eco-sustainable and ethical approach earned SoleRebels the title of the first Fair Trade Certified Footwear Brand in the world, a prestigious certification from the World Fair Trade Organization. It’s amazing that despite growing and expanding, they have been able to maintain their ‘green heritage’ (because traditional eco-friendly methods have always been the way to go in Ethiopia, way before being ‘green’ became trendy) and continue to produce quality products by hand.

Bethlehem’s entrepreneurial success has been recognized worldwide. She was named one of the 12 greatest female entrepreneurs of the last century by CNN, was included in Forbes World’s 100 Most Powerful women list and was ranked #1 of the Top 5 Entrepreneurs in Africa by Business Insider to name just a few. She also received the prestigious title of Goodwill Ambassador for Entrepreneurship by the United Nations and is a Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon Ambassador (a program dedicated to the prevention of cervical and breast cancer in sub-Saharan African and Latin America through education, screening, and treatment).

 soleRebels collage

So what shoes do they make? There’s something for everyone: comfy sandals, cute slip-ons, trendy lace-ups (they also make bags!) They offer tons of different shoes for kids, women, and men. What I like is that they have a huge selection of colorful shoes! They also have more neutral ones as well but as far as shoes go, in my mind, you can’t go wrong with colors and prints. It’s so easy to add a bit of vitality and personality to an outfit with the right shoes.

For this review, Bethlehem very generously offered me many pairs of shoes to showcase the different types of footwear SoleRebels handcrafts. I have to say, I fell in love at first sight with these shoes and I can’t believe they were actually handmade. The quality of the craftmanship is absolutely outstanding from the hand-spun, hand-loomed fabrics to the dying and stitching. Everything is impeccable!

solerebels shoes 1Both the cotton and leather shoes are very comfortable and breathe well. Not the mention the recycled car tire soles that make them flexible yet cushion feet well. I now totally understand why people were so adamant about using car tire as soles for their shoes in Ethiopia! My favorite pairs are definitely the tooTOOs tAlent (multi-colored striped shoes) and the tooTOOS holEEEE (that Golden color is A-MA-ZING!).

I couldn’t be happier about these shoes. There’s one pair that felt a little tighter at first but became comfortable after it stretched out a bit. One thing I should add is that if you have any issue (any issue at all!) with your shoes, soleRebels has an amazing Happy Soles Guarantee. So if anything goes wrong before the sole has worn through, they will replace your pair. No questions asked! How many popular footwear brands back their products with such a hassle-free guarantee? I can’t think of many…

SoleRebels is a footwear company that has a vision. A vision about eco-ethical and sustainable development. A vision about creating jobs and offering new opportunities for entire communities. It’s great to know that the simple act of purchasing shoes can help fuel this amazing positive change in Ethiopia!

Find Out More: Head over to soleRebels to see for yourself the stunning selection of eco-ethical handmade footwear they offer.

Connect: SoleRebels is connected! Don’t forget to like SoleRebels on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and subscribe to their YouTube channel for all the latest news and promotion.

Giveaway: SoleRebels is generously offering 3 of our lucky readers a pair of beautiful shoes. Each winner will choose the model and color they want! The giveaway is open to US and Canada and will end October 1st. For your chance to win, enter the Giveaway Tools below. Good luck!

Update 6/2019: Rachel (who write this review) no longer works for Emily Reviews. This was her honest review from 2014. In the past couple of months (2019), we have received many comments (you can read them below) stating trouble with Sole Rebels. They have complaints on their social media as well. It appears that something has changed with this company and they may not be as reliable about shipping out orders as they used to be. This is a shame because as you can tell from this review, Rachel loved their product. Please look up more recent reviews to read stories of ordering/delivery problems before deciding whether or not to purchase. 



disclaimer rachel



This post currently has 34 responses.

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  • Raine

    What an incredible story behind the company, I really enjoyed reading the post, I’d heard of Sole Rebels before but I had no idea behind it, I thought it was just another eco company. Great post and giveaway!

    • Rachel

      Thanks Raine! I really wanted to give a lot of information about the company itself and its motto. What they are doing is totally amaizing. Plus their shoes left nothing to be desired. It’s incredible that they can achieve such craftmanship and continue to do them by hand. I’m glad you like my post 🙂

  • Karine

    I love the Tootoos far out, they’re so cute!

  • Julie Bolduc

    I like the Abyssinian PURE CHILL

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  • Deb E

    I love the pretty pastel colors of these shoes. They look so comfy too. I’m tall so low or no heels work for me.

  • Robert Ahuero

    Sole Rebels may be ethical, sustainable, green, vegan etc, but their online orders support and follow through are an absolute disaster and shout bankrupt integrity. I ordered 3 pair of Sole Rebels in early 2018, by June/July after multitudes of request for status they informed the order had been mis-sent. Then Bethelem Telahun the CEO promised to replace the order. After repeated email affirmations and directives to her staff to replace the order and update me, nothing happen. By November 2018 it was evident they had no real intent to fulfill their promise to replace my lost order. Sole Rebels Online Store has shows no professionalism or honesty.

    • Sam

      I’m having a similar experience. I ordered my shoes from Sole Rebels in February and after a month contacted them for an update. By the end of March, I got a ship date and a FedEx tracking number that didn’t work. It has been over a week since they said they’d ship it and claimed it would arrive in four days. Now I’ve been emailing them regarding a refund with no response.

  • Rachel

    I wish that I had read these reviews before ordering a pair in March of 2019. I am currently having a similar experience and am not receiving my order nor responses to my request for a refund. It is so disapointing that even if the shoes ever arrive and I love them I will never order from them again. I love what they say they stand for but they are not honest and open about the ordering process so it makes me doibt anything they say.

  • Paul

    I have the same issue.
    Ordered shoes on 7th April and gave them a little follow up mail a month later where I got this reply:

    On 6 May 2019, at 5:12 pm, soleRebels ethiopia wrote:
    “Order team please advise ship details back to all
    Paul many thanks for your followup and please accept my apologies for the delay – we have been extra busy these days. Your order is being completed and you will soon get a shipment confirmation with tracking information from the order team.
    Thanks again for your business [ and your added patience] . We are excited to get your soleRebels to you and onto your feet.

    very best regards ,”
    founder & c.e.o , soleRebels footwear

    Followed up with them again on 16th May and got the following response:

    On 17 May 2019, at 12:24 pm, soleRebels ethiopia wrote:

    “Urgent-Tiruye pls resolve //”

    So shorter and no pleasantries, no “Dear Paul…” nothing.

    I am now about to write my third email to these people but am slowly getting the sinking feeling that there’s no intention of delivering this order. I hope I’m wrong but this looks like a scam, folks.

    Has anyone actually received shoes from this organisation EVER?

    Pissed off Paul

    • Jim F

      Yes, I just got my shoes a week or so ago (after 16 weeks of waiting) and they are about 10 sizes too small. The company is not responding.

  • Brandon Rout

    I’ve had a similar, negative interaction with SoleRebels. They took well over two months to finally get my shoes to me. They ignored every email I sent about cancelling the order. I also got a fake FedEx shipping number in an email from them. Every attempt to reach out to them has been ignored. They delete all the negative comments off their Instagram and eventually blocked me for trying to tell people the truth and warn them. Shady company. Oh, and the shoes that I finally did get ran VERY small and barely fit my feet even without socks on. So now, I’m stuck with either trying to go through their return/exchange process (I seriously doubt I’ll ever get a return from them) or I get to try to sell some quirky shoes off and recoup some of my money that way.

    • Rachel

      Still waiting on mine that I ordered on March 30th. I’m currently at the step in which they have sent me a fake fedex id. I’m noticing a pattern here. I too didn’t get a reply when I asked for a refund. I have only gotten a response when I inquired about delivery. I am going to start investigating how to report them as a scam business. Will let you know what I discover.

  • Rachel

    Okay, I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and also asked paypal to investigate since that is how I paid. Will keep you all posted. This is so disappointing.

  • Chris

    I ordered shoes in November, got them in March. They were unusable as there is some strengthening missing in the heel, so they make a weird wrinkle and through that its very uncomfortable to wear them. Besides that I got further bills from the customs, even if their shipping policy said all shipping costs are included. I hat to pay fed ex further 50 € and the SoleRebel communication did nothing about that. Now I payed nearly double the price, can’t wear the shoes and if I would send them back I would propably pay for the customs again. Have useless shoes here and would never buy there again.

  • Rachel

    Luckily I paid for mine with Paypal and received a full refund without having to deal with Solerebels. I did eventually receive the shoes, but they were nowhere close to fitting. There was no info on how to return so I gave them away. I don’t believe a word of their story.

  • Mike

    Took over 2 months and lots of follow up emails to get my shoes. They showed up and were at least 2 sizes too small. Got an immediate response on an automated rerun request page, then crickets from there on out. No responses to endless emails so I’ve took to posting my experience on their social media pages. There I found others with the same issues (like here). It’s evident they pay for followers and good reviews, and remove all bad reviews they can keep up with. Spend that time replying to emails and following through on others hard earned money that you (Bethlehem) are so proud of yourself!

  • Mike

    Took over 2 months and lots of follow up emails to get my shoes. They showed up and were at least 2 sizes too small. Got an immediate response on an automated rerun request page, then crickets from there on out. No responses to endless emails so I’ve took to posting my experience on their social media pages. There I found others with the same issues (like here). It’s evident they pay for followers and good reviews, and remove all bad reviews they can keep up with. Spend that time replying to emails and following through on others hard earned money that you (Bethlehem) are so proud of yourself!

  • Jon G

    I have had similar issues. I ordered my shoes on May 9 at that time the site said the time to fulfillment would be up to 20 working days. On June 19, in response to a message from me, I got an email signed by the CEO apologizing for the delay and telling me my order would be fulfilled soon. In response to another email from me I got an email signed by someone else, a Tirunesh Girma, saying my order would be fulfilled by July 24 and shipped by a specific Fed Ex air waybill number. As of today, August 6, the order is listed as unfulfilled and according to the Fed Ex tracking site, nothing has been shipped under the number SoleRebels provided.
    At this point, I am not hopeful.

  • Roger

    Same exact experience here, except they never respond to any emails – ordered the shoes 2 months ago and still no response, no shoes….crickets

    • Jonathan Gutoff

      My shoes weee just delivered. They fit well and are fine, but the excess time it took to get them to me and the lack of and faulty commutation really ruined my experience

  • Cindy

    I fell into this greed trap as well. Ordered in June 2019, 1 pair of Men’s shoes, paid $81, after a $9.00 “discount”. Order email from soleRebels states 8 weeks to ship product. Fast forward to October 2019… no shoes, no response to 3 emails and online communication. IM’d Bethlehem on her personal Facebook page, thought I’d keep my comments/complaint from the mainstream of Facebook shaming. No response to my IM. Further investigation shows that “Bethlehem” has started many companies, some praised by “Oprah” and “CNN”. I call FAKE NEWS and greed trap/SCAM. There is a return address Returns USA/Canada
    to an apartment building in Norfolk, VA!! Really? An apartment?!
    soleRebels USA
    attn: Returns
    8600 Glen Myrtle Ave. Apt. 1710
    Norfolk, VA 23505
    BUYER BEWARE! I will fight for my $81

  • BillyG

    I did order a while ago earlier this year and, hmm…no surprise, exactly the same experience.
    It took a lot of pestering (to be fair, my emails were always responded to) before getting a “fake” tracking number and then finally a real tracking number.
    Total time was about 2 months.

    The shoes themselves are actually pretty good. Look better than in the pictures and well made. It is probably true to size but unfortunately a touch small due to the shape of the shoe.
    I like the shoe, don’t get me wrong, but after that experience and hearing about other people having the same run-around, I’m hesitant to go through that again!

    • BillyG

      A bit further research, it seems like Ethiopia has been going through some tough times this year, maybe even on the brink of civil war. At least severe unrest and lots of deaths. It would be no surprise if production and shipping were disrupted in such circumstances. I would completely understand if they were open about it and just tell us so if this is the reason for the delivery problems.
      But right now the web site seems to keep operating as normal and even new models of shoes going online.

  • Martin Meier

    Same experience as everybody. Paid 300 EUR, plus 100 EUR FedEx/ tax. All 4 pairs were at least two sizes too small. Never again… I really liked the idea and the concept but this is just crap! Very disappointed!

  • Brennan

    Same problems. No shoes, no responses after multiple attempts. How can we report this so others aren’t scammed?

  • Brendan

    Buyer beware.

    I purchased a pair of solerebels (black stepUP Ed. 2) for $171.83 (AUD) in August of 2020. I received my order by Dec 2020 however they were the wrong size and not the same as pictured on the website when I made the purchase.

    I have emailed customer service and messaged using the “contact us” link on the website but not had a reply.

  • JS

    Another scammed customer here. They took 5 months to deliver. When they arrived, they were not as pictured and not to my liking. I’m now trying to get a refund but they completely ignore all email communication. Have tried reaching them on social media and can see that they read my messages but they still ignore. They also delete any negative post I leave. It’s infuriating. Wish I’d vetted them more thoroughly online before purchasing because they clearly have a terrible reputation. Have now filed complaints at BBB and made a claim via my credit card. THIS COMPANY CANNOT BE TRUSTED

  • Fares

    Basically product is ok, but the service sucks, a lot! Wrong size, poor delivery, horrible customer service responsiveness and courtesy..
    The product was made to the exact same size of my foot. I literally sent an outline of my foot for proper sizing and the shoes came back that same exact size! Basically way too small to wear. You would assume that when they want an outline of your foot for custom sizing that they will produce a shoe adapted to your foot size.
    Also, the product was delivered 2 months later!
    It arrived after new European regulation was implemented and I had to pay 40€ for clearance extra.
    Customer service during these 2months was absent, I had to send multiple emails as a reminder for the order. The owner herself answered briefly and vaguely. You would think one would get better service from th actual owner, but it’s the exact opposite.
    Finally, upon complaint about the size of the shoes, I received one brief email forwarded from the owner asking her team to remake shoes for a VIP, and that’s it! I asked for clarification, but no answer, I asked for details, but nothing came back. I don’t even know to which size this reorder would be nor if I am to pay for it (which I don’t want), or if she wants the shoes I received back.. basically, I got ghosted by Bethlehum Tilahun Alemu, the owner herself!

  • Paul

    Sole Rebels are a total scam, I followed your write up and trusted it. Now you are aligned to this product. You should do a story to say sorry and that it is a scam. 240 USD for 2 shoes given to the scammers of Sole Rebels.

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