LINCHPIN SERIES Barefoot Ted of Luna Sandals

by Editor on November 7, 2011


Barefoot Running approached the legendary Barefoot Ted to talk about his inspiration, Luna Sandals and the concept of Korima. What transpired was an entertaining, engaging trip through one man’s passion and a story of all the ways he shares it with others.


BR:    When did Luna Sandals launch?

BFT:    That’s an interesting story. The company is named after Manuel Luna, a Tarahumara runner who taught me how to make the sandals. The story of him making the sandals and the start of our friendship is told in Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run

In a way, the company was founded on that day in 2006 when Manuel taught me to make the huarache sandals. Then in 2007, when I ran the 50 mile Copper Canyon Ultra in my own sandals and blogged about them, I saw the popularity rise. By 2008, I had to bring in some young partners to help me make the shoes. The company really came of age in 2010.

Luna Sandals is the coolest thing I could ever think about doing. It’s my passion. I’m the company’s storyteller. I’m just one of many who have had an ah ha moment, and I’m lucky to do this.


BR:    What was the inspiration behind Luna Sandals and what is it about your background that inspires the company?

BFT:    Luna is connected to my history as a surfer and skateboarder. It has to do with rediscovering a style of movement – just like early surfboards were initially not perfect, but they were made out of passion. Suddenly you have a whole culture and millions of people embracing something, and it grows. We’re on the cusp of that with minimalist footwear – we’re rediscovering the magic that people have in their own bodies, and we’re doing something with it.

Luna is such a strong name. It reflects so much of what our shoes represent. The purity, the story, the knowing of what it is we can do on some level.

The success of the company will have something to do with us eventually doing good for other people, especially the Tarahumaras who inspired Luna. But for now, they have done so much more for us than we have for them.

We try to do more than support a few things. The future of Luna is giving back more than we get – like the concept of Korima.


BF:    Tell us a little about the the Luna Sandals designs.

BFT:    It is so fascinating to be part of this company now, because I get to sit back and watch as the talent that is here is flowering. The company leadership is primarily me and the Smuin brothers. I met them when they taught me to slackline. They had made their own Huarache sandals.

Jules and Bookis (Smuin) became my partners, and they have brought such talent to the company. They have a story of strength, and it has given them talent and a unique dream and mission. They have taken on responsibilities that they are uniquely educated for, and we all work together to play a role in product development.

Where we’ve been is awesome. Where we are is awesome. Where we’re going is more awesome still. It’s a beautiful organic story that is unfolding before our eyes.

The next sandals coming out keep the design elegant and connected to a long tradition. I have tried to stay true to my path. We are finally getting our own soling materials. We are totally dedicated now to preserving the process of making Luna sandals in Seattle. We’re bringing in PlusFoam materials that are made from recycled materials that are easy to recycle – those new tread designs and foam outsoles will ship next year.

We want to make cradle-to-cradle shoes. The kind of thing that is biodegradable. Not just recyclable. That’s what we’re doing with the power of growth and money. We don’t need the more stuff.

 The goal is a better, more sustainable world. It’s growing happy, healthy people.


BF:    Are you a barefoot runner? What is your philosophy on barefoot running?

BFT:    I love being barefoot. I learned to do many things while barefoot that have impacted so much of every part of my life.


BF:    What does your free time look like?

BFT:    My role has become somewhat an artist or poet. It is to understand our story and helping the people who are keeping it going along. It is being the “spokes-Monkey” of this company, and keeping the story alive.

There are things I want to do, like writing, aside from coaching and traveling, and helping others to do what Luna does.

I also play a similar role in the Born to Run stores in Seattle. I play a behind-the-scenes role there too. My life has a lot of travel, there is so much flexibility; it is feast or famine. In some ways it is fun, but it is also physically demanding.


BF:    Who inspires you?

BFT:    My grandmother, Ona, who strongly identified with her Choctaw Nation roots. She taught me to believe that humans are not born broken. She conveyed that to me in the way she lived and believed. She’s really special – I named my daughter after her.

Click on the photo to read our review of the Luna Equus

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sajid June 11, 2015 at 11:34 pm

Why don’t us runners try it, maybe have some short race 3km\5km where you run\walk boeofart and your entry money goes to charity, might be sore do

Barefoot Ted February 19, 2016 at 11:54 pm

I am going over past interviews and found this one.

I can report that LUNA Sandals continues to grow and evolve. It is now 12+ full-time Monkeys working a peak production in the middle of the winter. So proud of our company.

Come by and have a visit of our factory in Seattle…just 3 blocks north of the Space Needle.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: