SYOU Code of Conduct


SYOU is an international sneaker concept and a fresh way to think about sneakers. SYOU also stands for ISEEYOU – representing the fact that we see talent all over the world.

We have embarked on a global journey to discover fresh creative talent in new places. Our first stop was Burkina Faso and now we’re working in Colombia. What’s Next? The opportunities are limitless and we have only made the first steps in a worldwide expedition of discovery. We collaborate with creative talent from each country – from designers to copywriters to artists – to create SYOU sneakers and the entire story around the product and country. Through our actions we hope to contribute to the better perception of a country. We call this positive country branding. We know we can’t change the world by ourselves, but by applying the co-design principle to the very core of what we do, we’re trying to contribute in our own way, by doing what we believe in.

SYOU represents a new generation of entrepreneurs, who look beyond just their own interests. The SYOU team thinks and acts globally, collaborating with people from all around the world. The team on the ground is always made up of a mix of international and local talent.

Aim of the Code of Conduct

This Code of Conduct is primarily written for our co-workers. In addition it offers an insight in what we stand for to all the other creative talents we work with, partners, and also to producers, authorities, and the public in general.

In this Code you can find more information on our:
- business values
- business ethics
- social responsibility and accountability
- partnerships

Guarantees and observing the regulations

We expect that everyone working at and for SYOU takes good notice of the Code and works according to its stipulations. At the same time we believe that the Code cannot replace the principle of common sense and we expect our co-workers to see every situation in the given context. Consider the actions and, when needed, ask for guidance from colleagues or the management team. The management team stimulates the guaranties and observation of the Code by discussing it at least once a year in a general meeting with all co-workers. During this meeting we discuss if and how the Code needs to be adjusted.

Business values

Our values explain what we care about most, it is the core of our business and shows what goes behind each pair of shoes. Although our collections change together with the countries we produce it in, they are all laced together by the same values.


Co-design is our guiding principle. It is also what distinguishes us from other fair trade sneaker brands. It refers to working together with different people and talents from different backgrounds. Thanks to talented graphic designers, copywriters, illustrators and other artists, we can create the entire story around the product and the country in true harmony. To achieve this we need to stay open in the process to new ideas, new insights and other forms of creativity. Honoring these differences is how SYOU continuous to grow. Co-design is therefore a process as well as a genuine partnership, an attitude and a mindset.

Cutting-edge sneaker design

SYOU combines fashion and social awareness. Our sneakers are clean, simple and aesthetically pleasing. It does not scream ‘charitable’ or ‘sustainable design’ in any way and is just simply a well-designed shoe that people would want to buy regardless of the cause behind it. This way SYOU is able to mix the best of both worlds and seamlessly combine fashion and sustainability into a new generation of sneakers.

High-quality and locally-sourced materials

At SYOU we use high-quality materials that are 100% locally sourced. These materials are not only vibrant and inspiring to use in products and design, but also form a way to stimulate the local economy. We use ecological, organic and recycled material whenever reasonably possible.


SYOU is the brand that finds amazing creative talent and offers them a voice. In every country the creative process starts with a talent call, an open pitch for an assignment. By competing the best designers are chosen and receive an assignment. Our search for talent is closely related to our idea of what a social or sustainable brand means. We care about tapping into existing talent and showing them to the rest of the world, as opposed to stimulating an easily replaceable workforce through uneducated and unskilled labor. Calling for talents also keeps the brand fresh and allows us to constantly reinvent the way we express ourselves creatively. It gives an incentive to the local economy and provides a way to meet different cultures for the global consumer.


At SYOU we emphasize positive, inspiring stories on a daily basis and we find them everywhere we go.

We are about equal collaboration and co-design. We believe in trade not aid and that’s why we support a social economic movement. SYOU is a vehicle to tell a positive, inspiring story about a country.


SYOU has a different approach to marketing, budgets, sourcing materials, finding designers and managing production. We care first and foremost about stimulating talents and using honest materials, rather than maximizing profits. Creativity spurs economic growth and combining this with paying an honest price is our way of stimulating a nation’s economy.

Business ethics

We believe fashion, commercial success and sustainable production can work hand-in-hand. That is why SYOU approaches the entire value chain in an ethical way, from the workers to the community and the environment.

Good for workers

SYOU is a new way to think about sneakers. We collaborate with talents from all over the world and we want this to be an exciting and enjoyable ride for everyone involved. We create a positive working environment for those we work directly with. We expect, and see to it, that our partners do the same. This includes fair wages and benefits, a healthy and safe working environment, no discrimination and no child and forced labor. We want the people we work with to feel that they co-own the collection, that is why we think co-design is so important. After all, it is thanks to everyone involved that SYOU can be a success.

Good for the community

Community is important, without it SYOU would not exist. The community of creatives designing the shoes, the local community creating them, the global community buying them, and the SYOU community that connects them all. That is why the respect for different people is extra important in our work, our attitude and our communications. We welcome opinions – congratulatory or constructive and always with equal respect. Through social media we build a community where we tell positive stories about a country; whether it’s about a person, a company or a product. And we call to action using words like ‘join’ and ‘discover’. Allowing people to see the positive, creative and personal sides of a country rather than just the stories that come into the news. We find the similarities between people and celebrate our differences – that is our way to contribute to the local, global and creative community.

Good for the environment

Our sneakers are completely locally made. For example, our collection in Colombia is 100% designed and produced in Colombia from 100% Colombian materials. The eco-friendly rubber soles and the lasts & molds are made in Medellin, the canvas comes from Bogotá and the entire manufacturing process is carried out in Cali. Producing locally contributes to an environmentally friendly final product. In every shoe we use honest and ecologically sustainable materials as much as possible. We connect to producers to find out which materials are available, how they are being processed and what kind of impact this has on the environment. Being aware that all products have some environmental impact, we focus on keeping this to a minimum.

Social responsibility and accountability

Sustainability, fair trade and corporate social responsibility are concepts that are often degraded to buzz words. At SYOU we put these words at the core of our business. We adhere to the minimum standards explained below as set out by the International Labor Organization (ILO). Our actions and activities however go beyond these minimum requirements and are always judged on the basis of how we can continuously improve in light of our business values and ethics.

Forced labor

For SYOU, forced labor means any form of labor for which the worker has not offered himself voluntarily and/or which he or she performs under the menace of any type of penalty. An important part of this is that workers can always leave their employer after reasonable notice. ILO conventions 29 and 105 are used by SYOU as minimum standards.

Child labor

SYOU does not support child labor. We and our partners do not employ any person under the age of 15 or below the compulsory schooling age. In addition, children (any person below the age of 18) are not allowed to perform work that is physically and/or mentally damaging to the child’s health, or that interferes with his/her development. Children must have the opportunity to be a child. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the ILO Convention 182 are used by SYOU as minimum standards.

Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining

We find it important that workers are not only protected by national, international and industry standards, but that they also have the opportunity to protect themselves. That is why we respect, recognize and encourage the right of workers to form and join trade unions or to perform other types of collective bargaining. ILO conventions 87 and 98 are used by SYOU as minimum standards.

Fair wages and benefits

Through SYOU we hope to stimulate the local economy, offering fair wages and benefits are a big part of that. We care first and foremost about stimulating talents and using honest materials, rather than maximizing profits. Everyone working with and for SYOU will be paid a fair wage and receive fair benefits. This holds for everyone working directly for SYOU or indirectly as part of the production; from the raw materials to the final product. Fair means that it meets or exceeds national or industry standards. It will always be more than sufficient to cover basic needs. It also means that wages always stand in relation to someone’s responsibilities, skills and to what others are being paid. We do not accept excessive payments at the expense of other people’s wages down the production chain. ILO Convention 131 is used as minimum standards.

No excessive working hours

Workers are not required to work in excess of 48 hours per week and get at least one day off within every seven-day working period. Hours of work comply, at the very least, with applicable laws and industry standards. ILO convention 1 is used by SYOU to provide minimum standards.

Workplace health and safety

SYOU seeks to create optimal working conditions that guarantee maximum safety and health. SYOU acts according to the ILO convention 155 on Occupational Health and Safety. Among other things, this means: the adaptation of the workspace to the personal characteristics of the worker, timely breaks, and informing the workers about possible risks that may result from the job. Physical abuse, threats of physical abuse, punishments or discipline, sexual and other harassment, and intimidation in the workplace is strictly prohibited.

Positive work environment

We want to create an open and positive work atmosphere based on mutual respect, inspiration and stimulation. Through co-design within our team we aim to involve each and every one, stimulating and making use of personal talents in the best possible way.


Corruption arises in many ways and can vary widely. Our definition of corruption is every form of abuse of power for someone’s own personal benefit, e.g. bribery or blackmail. At SYOU we do not nourish a corrupt system. With regard to this item, SYOU endorses the international regulations, including the UN Convention against Corruption, UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and the EU Convention on the Protection of the Communities Financial Interests and the Fight against Corruption and Two Protocols, to prevent corrupt activities.


Discrimination, as we see it, is the distinction, the unequal treatment and the disadvantage of people because of gender, color, nationality, race, age, religion, disablement, sexual preference, chronic disease, or other personal characteristics. Neither our work, nor the way of working may be discriminating for others, no matter how. If there is a case of discrimination by or affecting a SYOU team member it needs to be reported to the SYOU management team. Often it already helps if the case is openly discussed with those involved. As discrimination is not tolerated, actions will be taken.


At SYOU we see fraud as the deliberate embezzlement, falsification, omission, or removal of data, money, and / or goods. Another example of fraud is deceit. Deceit means a deliberate supply of incorrect, incomplete or non-transparent data, as a result of which financial information or decision-making is influenced in an incorrect way. If you should have any suspicion about or directly hit upon a situation of fraud, deceit, or any other unlawful behavior, inform the SYOU team straightaway to discuss the necessary measures to be taken. The issue will be discussed and depending on the gravity of the matter, we may decide to end the cooperation with the person or partners involved.


By working locally and with recycled materials when possible, we aim to contribute to ecological production practices. In addition we promote environmental responsibility and seek out partners that adopt measures to mitigate negative impacts that the workplace or production process has on the environment.


SYOU’s policy is to comply with all the laws and regulations that apply to all our activities. We expect everyone who works with us to do the same. We select our partners carefully on the basis of our business values and ethics, human rights principles, labor standards and other national, international or industry rules and regulations that might apply to them.

The UN Global Compact’s ten principles are used to check whether the business in question meets our expectations. We check supplier codes, visit factories, speak to workers and lay down our mutual expectations in writing. Before and during the collaboration we inform partners and co-workers as extensively as possible about the appropriate laws and regulations we are obliged to and comply with. To make sure that we know what is going on in the production process, we maintain tight relations with all our partners and manufacturers before and during collaboration. If a partner or manufacturer should act in a way contrary to this Code, the collaboration is cancelled or postponed until the issues are resolved.

Each collaboration is a learning process for all involved and mistakes and failures should be shared to learn from. An open communication and a (joint) effort will contribute to this learning loop. We expect partners to make improvements in their social accountability. Being transparent about dilemmas and solutions is therefore highly encouraged.


At SYOU we commit ourselves to constantly improving our actions and activities in light of our business values and ethics. We ask everyone involved, from creatives to producers and consumers, to question and challenge everything we do so to that we can improve together. Please contact us through if you have any questions, remarks, concerns or complaints.

Last update: June 10th 2015

This code was written by ButterflyWorks in collaboration with SYOU


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