Carrie Johnson is trying to save the world, one pair of shoes at a time

Carrie Johnson is CEO of Sambal Sol, an eco-friendly sandal company. Photograph by Nick Garcia.
Carrie Johnson is CEO of Sambal Sol, an eco-friendly sandal company. Photograph by Nick Garcia.

As a 35-year-old CEO and mom of five, Carrie Johnson has her hands full. Today she’s holding her morning latte in one hand while making plans with her eldest daughter, who’s about to head off to her freshman year at Florida State University.

In a few moments she’ll shift gears to her eco-conscious footwear company, Samba Sol, where she serves as chief executive and creative director. She’s dressed head to toe in gear from Carbon38, a women’s fashion/activewear site that Johnson says she’s addicted to.

Who could blame her for wanting to be sporty-chic and comfortable when running her own professional and personal empires?

‘Endless Possibilities’

She stepped into the CEO role in 2013, resurrecting Samba Sol from a dormant brand with basic designs — plain flip-flops with flag emblems from various countries — to one with vibrant and varied looks for women, men and children. More than that, Samba Sol has a message: Respect the planet.

‘It is all natural, and we recycle and reuse all of our waste.’

“I saw the endless possibilities of Samba Sol because of the sustainability factor,” Johnson said.

All of the company’s sandals are made with biodegradable Brazilian rubber, and the manufacturing process has a low carbon … ahem … footprint.

“It is all natural,” she said of her products. “There are no toxins. And we recycle and reuse all of our waste.”  

Carrie Johnson. Photograph by Nick Garcia. NICK GARCIA

A-List Celebs and Partners Love Samba Sol

The concept has caught on with celebs like Amy Adams, Ben Affleck and Natalie Portman, all of whom have been seen sporting Samba Sol flip-flops. Brands love them, too. The Delano and Kimpton Angler’s in South Beach have worked with Samba Sol on custom collaborations for retail sale or as amenities for VIPs.   

A patron of the arts, Johnson recently partnered with the National YoungArts Foundation to have four alumni create designs for Samba Sol. Their sandals are now available for sale online, with proceeds going back to YoungArts and to the artists themselves.

“Art and the art of fashion is such an important part of who we are at Samba Sol and an important part of who I am as a person,” Johnson said. “I knew from the beginning that our mission would be to help protect the Earth while also supporting the next generation of artists and entrepreneurs.” 

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