Did you know that the footwear industry accounts for 1.5% of the global impact and billions of pairs of shoes end up in landfill each year?

The first ever Glasgow Good Ideas Class has now finished and its 5 social innovators are working hard to make change. Unfortunately the usual end of Class celebration, the Social Innovation Showcase, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak. But we’ve launched the #HelpMakeChange campaign to introduce you to the Glasgow Class and opportunities to work with them to deliver social change.

Each Class member has a unique request. A specific ask that, if fulfilled, will help them make a bigger impact in this next stage. Read on to find out if you can help REPAIREL founder Petra make change.

Now more than ever, it is important that we come together and do what we can for the greater good. Social innovators grab this challenge with both hands, gearing up to bring something new and positive into the world. Good Ideas provides the structure, tools and space required  to turn ideas into impact, the rest is up to the hard working social innovators.

Petra Baiba Olehno, the founder of REPAIREL
Petra Baiba Olehno, Founder of REPAIREL

Petra Baiba Olehno is the founder of REPAIREL, a social enterprise that aims to set up a shoe repair lab in North West Glasgow. 

How It All Began / The Problem

Petra founded REPAIREL to minimise the impact of the climate crisis. Did you know that the footwear industry accounts for 1.5% of the global impact and billions of pairs of shoes end up in landfill each year? Fast fashion and throwaway culture have lined the pockets of producers, but at great cost to the environment and people; cheaper prices often mean unfair labour practices and poor pay. Despite these shocking facts, there are limited solutions currently in place to counter this.

Luckily, we have people like Petra who identify these social problems and come up with practical solutions. Aiming to make a difference at a global and local level, at home in Glasgow and beyond, Petra applied to come along to Good Ideas Camp. With an organisation in its early stages and a desire to explore its value, a program that would guide her through the journey was just the ticket. This was partially motivated by the unfortunate truth that many social enterprises do not progress past the early stages, or stay in operation. 

If The Shoe Fits, Repair It / The Solution 

Speaking of sustainability, you may be wondering how exactly Petra approaches this pressing global challenge surrounding the mass production and waste of footwear. The REPAIREL Lab will work on testing various shoe-waste reducing models at a smaller scale, in order to optimise social responsibility for shoe manufacturing and repair. 

There are different dimensions. On one level, the focus is on providing access to shoe repair equipment and support for people to repair their own shoes. On another level, promoting sustainability within the fashion industry must be done to counter the devastating effects of fast fashion and mass waste. Last but by no means least, there is a need to get creative and explore further possibilities to maximise the impact. The Lab will facilitate digital fabrication and rapid prototyping, democratise access to resources for invention and manufacturing, rethink supply chains and explore how communities can work at the grassroots level. 

This takes us several steps closer, if you’ll pardon the pun, to a world where the carbon footprint of our footwear weighs lighter on our planet. 

The old boots by Tommaso Pecchioli

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work / The Experience

We asked Petra what she’d learnt during the Good Ideas programme and she told us: 

“One of the biggest learnings for me was actually about the commercial viability of a social enterprise. It hasn’t been a year since I started my business, but I’ve already seen so many other social enterprises go out of business. And I think it is because they are over focusing on the impact, which is so important, but you cannot deliver the impact if you don’t have a good business case. It is important to build a strong business and not feel ashamed about your business being profitable.”

The Future for REPAIRAL / The Asks 

Looking forward, a developing social enterprise needs good people to bring the good ideas into action. Petra has already secured some funding and will be looking to grow the REPAIREL team. 

So, Petra is asking:

“Can you put me in touch with:

If either of these roles have caught your eye or if you know someone who’d be perfect for them, get in touch with Petra at [email protected]

Can you work with Petra to #HelpMakeChange?

Petra is one of many people we’ve worked with at Good Ideas, now joining the ranks of our Alumni. If you’re sitting on a social venture idea and are itching to find out where to take it next, please get in touch!

Stay safe and take care 🙂 


The old boots by Tommaso Pecchioli