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Bati [pronounced bah-tea] is the Founder of the VOS® brand and is more formally known as José Alejandro Flores. He is an entrepreneur by nature; having the advantage of also applying his invaluable knowledge acquired by his multi-national corporate experiences over the years and his International MBA. Philanthropic principles are ingrained in his personal and professional values, which in turn he readily applies to his vision of the VOS® brand. The commitment to be an environmentally aware brand along with contributing to the social responsibilities amongst global communities in-need, are done in a manner that is second nature to him and his organization.
Can you afford to care? VOS® was founded as an answer to this simple but very profound question. VOS® believes that most people have a genuine desire to help others. Unfortunately most people don’t have the time or resources to have a significant impact on their own. This is why consumers are willing to support brands attached to some type of social cause or brands with strong environmental standards.
VOS® has also found that most of these brands ask consumers to spend more to either keep profits high or to sustain the charitable side of their business. This inevitably took VOS® to the original question: Can most people afford to care? More importantly, can VOS® create high quality products, which are good for the environment while helping others in need without asking people to spend more? YES.
MO: How do you think that your culturally diverse background has contributed to creating VOS®?
José: I have always been surrounded by multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-national individuals my entire life which has provided me with a global scope on all aspects of existence. This has contributed to me carrying a universal mind-set in all of my actions related to cultures, languages, cuisines, arts, sports, music and humanitarian causes. Due to my life-long exposure to the international community, I have been blessed with acquiring an appreciation for helping individuals & communities that are less fortunate or impoverished. Through my experiences of interacting with the aforementioned, I have learned that everyone can make a positive impact on this world and it is amazing how unselfish gestures and actions change the world for the better.
Hence, VOS® is a reflection and product of my lifelong surroundings in a global-oriented environment. I personally speak a flavor of the Spanish language that is spoken in Guatemala and which is influenced by the “voseo” tense that is an indirect influence of the formal “vosotros” tense spoken in Spain. The word “vos” has always been an identifying expression for me when speaking said language, therefore I was inspired to create an eco-friendly brand with this simple but very profound expression; keeping in mind all of the less fortunate individuals around the world.
MO: Where did the inspiration come from to design a completely recyclable, eco-friendly shoe?
José: I was inspired to design eco-friendly shoes more than a decade ago while I was living & traveling in Brazil and other various regions throughout South America. Being involved in the global sport of soccer my entire life; I have always been around shoes due to the nature of the sport being played with ones feet. I coupled these ongoing experiences with my conscience awareness of the realistic situation which our globe faces today regarding the array of negative environmental issues.
MO: You not only make a sustainable shoe, you then give away a pair to a person in need for every pair sold. In addition to that already charitable act, you then donate a portion of the revenue to the educational and health services in Guatemala, where you acquire the raw materials. That’s a remarkable amount of giving back for one product, how are you able to make any profit?
José: It is unbelievable how much can get accomplished when ones charitable actions are sincere & heartfelt in the global community which we all live in. Profits are generated due to the key partnerships which have been established with similar-minded global organizations that are carrying out these charities. Being able to partner with said organizations, VOS® is effectively able to carry out the humanitarian side of the business while not asking the consumer marketplace to pay more for its eco-friendly products than they would for similar products.
MO: Are you finding many companies who are as motivated as you to promote environmental awareness, sustainability and fair trade while also pursuing a broad charitable purpose?
José: The combination of all of the aforementioned attributes found in a single company is similar to finding a needle in a haystack — but it is not impossible. I have found that most people have a genuine desire to help others but unfortunately most people don’t have the time or resources to have a significant impact on their own. This is where companies & brands need to step in to offer a healthy medium between product prices and humanitarian distribution of their earnings. VOS® gets inspired by finding companies that are motivated to pursue these unique attributes: Give+Give+Recyle™
MO: Have you been involved with philanthropy from a young age? What experiences have influenced your remarkable sense of altruism and how do you stay inspired to keep giving?
José: I have actively been involved with philanthropy my entire life while connecting the dots between the developed and developing worlds in which I have always lived. Philanthropic principles are ingrained in my personal and professional values, which in turn I readily apply to my vision of the VOS® brand. The commitment to be an environmentally conscience brand along with contributing to the social responsibilities amongst global communities in need, are done in a manner that is second nature to me.
Being exposed to the billions of impoverished people around the globe that need ones help, is what keeps me inspired to keep giving. My first-hand awareness of the endless array of issues that our global communities face drives the desire to put forth my best effort to positively influence my direct and indirect surroundings. You may not be able to change the entire world, but you can definitely change the world around you.
MO: What is the next project that you’re most excited to share with our readers?
José: VOS® has been chosen by Google® + American Express® to be featured in a national campaign titled “My Business Story” which provides for immense support on behalf of said organizations in an array of business attributes. Together we’ll be taking Two Steps At A Time™ while working diligently for a better world today & tomorrow.
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