Vietnamese students in Finland produces sneakers from used coffee grounds and plastic waste

Tran Bao Khanh (L) and Chu Hoang Son, founders of Rens Original, which makes sports shoes from used coffee grounds. (Photo courtesy of Rens Original)

Vietnamese Tran Bao Khanh and Chu Hoang SonIn both have a great interest in fashion and environmental protection and in 2017 the pair established the company Rens Original while studying in Finland. Rens Original produces sneakers from used discharged coffee grounds, 300 grams per pair of shoes to be exact, and recycled plastic bottles.

In a recent article, media Vovworld writes that Bao Khanh came to Finland in 2011 to study international business and logistics while Hoang Son from Hanoi began studying IT in Finland three years later. The pair won Finland’s Summer of Startups 2016 with their Factory Finder project which is an online platform that connects European fashion brands with Vietnamese factories.

Rens Original launched its first pair of shoes which are 100 percent waterproof and odor-free in China in 2019 but as the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, the Vietnamese duo decided to move all production to Vietnam. Now all Rens shoe production takes place in Vietnam, the duo got great support from the Finnish government but a lot of the credit goes to their bold decision made during the pandemic. Besides the company’s headquarters in Helsinki, Rens Original has also expanded with a representative and R&D office in one of the founders, Tran Bao Khanh’s hometown of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

Speaking at an online conference on connecting and strengthening overseas Vietnamese human resources to support innovative startups in Vietnam in July, Tran Bao Khanh explained, “We wanted to leverage our past experience working at shoe manufacturing companies and what we learned in school to produce an eco-friendly fashion product for young sneaker enthusiasts. This was Rens Original’s initial goal and still our current mission.”

According to Tran Bao Khanh, all Rens Original members “were confident about the shift to Vietnam because the country’s technology and quality of garment and footwear production and material resources have improved considerably in the past 5 to 10 years. As a result, the quality of Rens shoes is much better now than when we made them in China,” Tran Bao Khanh said.

Rens shoes are now available in more than 100 countries and territories, with the largest markets in the US, Germany, the Netherlands, and Northern Europe.

About Mette Larsen

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Thailand

View all posts by Mette Larsen

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