Kai Paul - Indosole

Where and when did you learn to surf?
I grew up in Jakarta so I would come to Bali on holidays, I started when I was about 12 or 13 and just kind of got into it more as I got older. From Jakarta we would do weekend trips to beaches in West Java such as Pelabuhan Ratu, and Cimaja.

What do you love about surfing?
The feeling of sliding down a wave never gets old, it’s always refreshing. I love being in the ocean and feeling the energy of the waves and the sun, it’s good for the mind and body.

What is your go-to board at the moment?
I have this 6’0 Eric Arakawa. It’s just such a great board.

Do you have a wave or session that is most memorable? 
There’s been so many around the world with good friends. Lombok was a really good spot for me, but my favorite recently was at this local spot here in Bali called Brawa. It’s usually pretty crowded, but on this particular day there was just 3 of us and one other guy out, we had it for 3 hours, head high waves, it was mental. I don’t usually get to surf for that long here in Bali because I always have something to do, it was like a vacation session. 

Have you done much surf travel?
Primarily around Indonesia, California and Mexico. They’re my three main places. In terms of favorite spots, probably Strands on a good day in Southern California, Ocean Beach in San Francisco and I have a couple here in Bali that I’m not going to name. I want to keep them on the down low.

Who has inspired you to do what you’re doing?
Firstly, my parents for their love of travel, they came over to Indonesia in 1977 and stayed for 22 years kind of before it was fashionable to come here so I definitely got my love of travel from them. Secondly, my business partner Kyle because he is just so on it and works really hard. He keeps me on my toes and keeps me inspired to work towards our goals. And thirdly, other companies such as Stance socks. Those guys came out of nowhere! Obviously all the people involved had really strong backgrounds and knew what they were doing but they took over that whole market in such a short time. They did 18 million is sales last year and have made a huge impact on fashion, not just surf fashion, but you see them everywhere from surfers to hip hop artists to trendsetters in high fashion etc. Brands like Stance inspire us to think outside the box and to keep growing with our ideas.

What was it like growing up in Indonesia?
As a kid there are a lot less rules here so you can kind of get away with more. Plus the advantage of living in Java is that you can come to Bali all the time. The people are great and it feels like there’s just more freedom. I love it.

What kind of education have you had?
I went to high school in Jakarta, a school called Jakarta International School, or “JIS”, then went to college at Chico State University in California and got a degree in Construction Management and Business. I did Construction management for about 4 years then leaned on my business side and went into sales in the Action sports industry, which is where I met Kyle. He had the Indosole product laid out at an industry trade show. It was fresh on the market and still in the process of development but I immediately fell in love with the product, the idea and the concept. I thought it had potential and held the opportunity for me to connect back to Indonesia. 6 months later we talked and it’s been full on since.

Tell us a bit about Indosole?
Kyle’s parents were living in Bali in the mid 2000’s so he was coming over here for surf trips, escaping his rep job in California for 2 weeks at a time. He came across a pair of locally made sandals with the tire on the bottom, bought a couple of pairs and brought them back to Cali. Everyone loved them, so there was this idea and concept that he felt could really stick. Subsequent trips back to Bali led him to meet the lady making these sandals and he formed a relationship, her name is Putu. It took about 6 years to develop something that was acceptable for the market. Initially they were these huge heavy things so it took a bit of engineering and further product development to create something market appropriate. Even when they were released, from that point to now it’s crazy how far they’ve come. Now we have a product that is light, durable, fashionable and comfortable. Everything that a consumer wants with the benefit of having a tire as a sole. We’re eliminating waste while we make great quality footwear so we feel more confident in the product and the mission than ever before.

What is your role on a day-to-day basis?
My official title is Vice President and I manage all the product development over here in Bali and Indonesia from managing our existing production to the development of our new ranges. Right now I’m working on Spring/Summer 2015, and we have a designer from California, Kenya Stabler, that will be coming over to help with new designs. We are launching our apparel line this summer so stay tuned for that as well. The other side to my role is marketing and business development, which is a fun side of the business for me. Because we still consist of a small crew, there is still that feeling that we’re all doing a little bit of everything on a daily basis.  Its fun to be involved with so many different aspects of a growing business, always busy, and learning new things.

Do you work closely with Kyle and do you find it hard working between the US and Indo?
It does get tough sometimes because of the time difference, but we Skype most mornings here, which is afternoon over in Cali. Sometimes things come up where I need a quick answer or need to make a decision and we usually like to make our decisions as a team so that gets a bit challenging. But overall it’s great, having me here developing this market is important, having Kyle in San Francisco, and our Sales manager, Ed Santos, in Southern California creates this triangle of communities that we’re present in. Bali, San Francisco and Southern California, we call it “Balifornia”. We have three very important communities and we have a personal touch in all three.

What do you love most about your job?
There’s a lot of creative freedom, and the fact that we have a product that is so unique and different from anything else on the market, a product we have created on our own and something we are pioneering. It feels great.

Are you going to be staying in Bali?
Yeah, at least for the next couple of years. We’ll see how things progress, but for right now I think it’s important to be here watching over production and also just to touch base with a lot of old friends and family here in Bali and Indonesia and continue to grow the brand here.

Stay tuned for our new apparel line that will be launching this summer, we call it “indo”

Web: www.indosole.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/indosole
Vimeo: www.vimeo.com/indosole
Twitter: twitter.com/IndoSole
Instagram: @indosole



Posted by: Troy Roennfeldt, on October 4, 2013
Categories: Interviews