Don’t get us wrong, we do fancy ourselves a glass of bubbly and a mani on occasion, but we’d be fibbing if we said we didn’t get our kicks spending some QT with Mother Nature. And with the Bay’s fruitful offerings of terrain and wow-worthy wildlife, it’s hard to imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to bask in the beautiful scenes. But, trekking around does require a sturdy pair of soles — and no we aren’t condoning Tevas, guys. So, for our nature-hopping needs, we sometimes turn to the Portland-based, fashionable yet functional footwear company Sorel.
And this season Sorel has gone above and beyond just supplying stylish and cozy kicks and released a powerful new ad featuring a hard-working Bay Area beauty. For its “Get Your Boots Dirty” campaign, the company tapped Leila Janah, the CEO of Mission-based Samasource, a start-up that focuses on designing jobs for people in countries with little to no work opportunities and one of Fast Company's most inspiring women in tech, to show us how she gets her boots dirty. From jaunting around S.F. to meetings to visiting rural parts of the country helping others, Janah’s story is incredibly moving and the vid does a standout job of showing it. Peep Janah sporting her boots in the video above, and read on for our little Q&A with the CEO and the face of campaign right here!
Tell us more about your involvement in Sorel’s “Get Your Boots Dirty” campaign — how did it come to fruition?
"I was surprised when my assistant told me that Sorel wanted to talk to me about a new campaign. My work with Samasource takes me all over the world, but rarely for fashion. I loved that Sorel was trying to find real women who expect their shoes to hold up to grueling days without sacrificing style. I was also taken with Kimberley Barta, the company's global marketing director who had previously lent her prowess to Dr. Martens, I thought I’d be in good hands. After an initial video interview, recorded at a friend's ski house in Aspen while I was on vacation — not the most credible backdrop for a social entrepreneur working on poverty alleviation — we agreed to work together.
The shoot was incredible. The team chose a remote airstrip in Mammoth and hired a clutch team of stylists and photographers to turn me into a better dressed and better looking version of myself and capture it all on film. I got to tromp around mountains and lakes, and even through a snowstorm; we had to put chains on my fiancé’s 4Runner and take them off before landing in Palm Springs for Coachella that evening."
What’s the most exciting part about working in tech in S.F. right now?
"San Francisco is to technologists today as Paris was to writers and musicians at the turn of the last century. From a talent and funding perspective, it’s Mecca. Californians still have a settler mentality. We look towards the Pacific and see a frontier. I think this makes people embrace nonconformity — life is too short and there are too many problems to solve to worry about petty issues. When I first moved here after several years in New York, it felt liberating. I met brilliant people who worked on some of the hairiest engineering problems by day and went home and built elaborate art cars and costumes for Burning Man by night."
"My work forces me to embody the slogan literally. I travel to major cities, slums, and rural villages in Africa, Asia, and Latin America regularly and have to be prepared for anything from boardroom meetings to treks down dusty dirt roads covered in potholes. Though our San Francisco office is beautiful on the inside, it’s located on a gritty corner of the Mission, surrounded by halfway houses. I love walking to work every morning — I live in a warehouse in the equally hectic South of Market neighborhood — and not worrying about whether my shoes will make the journey."
We imagine you stay pretty busy — but where can we find you when you’re not working? Any fave S.F. haunts?
"When I’m not working, I find peace at my no-frills boxing gym on Mission Street, no one there works in tech or has heard of Lululemon, at dance classes with ODC and the Alonzo King Lines ballet school, or on runs and urban hikes with my fiancé. My favorite place in San Francisco is Yerba Buena gardens. Whenever I’m down, I stand in front of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial there and re-read my favorite quote, from his 1964 Nobel Prize acceptance speech: 'I have the audacity to believe that people’s everywhere can afford three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.'"
If you could offer any advice to female entrepreneurs what would it be?
"The same advice I’d give to all entrepreneurs, courtesy of the great Silicon Valley leader and investor Ben Horowitz: 'Don’t punk out and quit.'"
Video: Courtesy Of Sorel