‘No Lack of Enthusiasm’: Vivobarefoot CEO Galahad Clark ’99 Leans on Morehead-Cain Experiences
Galahad Clark ’99 will be one of the featured SEVEN Speakers during the 2018 Morehead-Cain Alumni Forum, taking place October 19 through 21, 2018, in Chapel Hill.
During his second Morehead-Cain summer, Galahad Clark ’99 worked with a fellow scholar to launch a nonprofit in Zimbabwe. Today he is the CEO and founder of Vivobarefoot, a $20 million sustainable shoe company that’s still growing fast. Galahad says his summer in Zimbabwe was formative for him as a leader and entrepreneur.
“That was obviously an extremely profound learning experience, going from the ground up in a very, very foreign place,” he says. “For the rest of my life I’ve been entrepreneurial, starting businesses and organizations. That summer was direct preparation for what I’ve ended up doing in life.”
Galahad also spent a Morehead-Cain summer and a college semester in Asia. He now conducts a significant amount of business in Asia. In particular, one of his summers took him to Mongolia, a country for which he developed a lifelong fascination. He’s found a way to go back.
“Funnily enough, the new shoe project I’m working on is a big shoe-making project in Mongolia.”
The passion and resilience Galahad honed as a Morehead-Cain Scholar is largely what still drives him forward today.
“One of my favorite definitions of success,” he says, “is that you fail, but you wake up the next morning with no lack of enthusiasm. I still feel really enthusiastic about (Vivobarefoot). Believing the business is a force for good, it’s a creative company . . . it feels exciting to have the chance to change the world a little bit from the feet up.”
Galahad says he also draws a lot of support and motivation from his Morehead-Cain friends.
“You can’t underestimate what a powerful peer group it is,” Galahad says. “The friends I made as a Morehead are my dearest friends today. They constantly challenge and inspire me. The Morehead, more than anything, gave me an incredible friendship group alongside this wonderful international perspective.”
One of Galahad’s best friends today was originally his Finals Weekend host. In fact, Galahad says he fell in love with all of UNC at Finals Weekend.
“To this day I still have deeply profound dreams of re-enrolling myself in Chapel Hill,” he laughs. His voice becomes more serious as he continues.
“I feel extremely . . . just chuffed a bit, because it’s kind of a random choice for a Brit to come to North Carolina, but I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. Because of the friends and the intellectual experiences and life experiences that I have—that are all very directly linked and intertwined with my life today. Frankly, everything I am today is entwined with different experiences and people I met as a Morehead Scholar. They’re just roots for my life and continue to be.”
Galahad says the one thing that makes him most excited about the upcoming Alumni Forum is simply the thought of being back in Chapel Hill. He’s also looking forward to meeting some of the current British scholars he has been in touch with.
“The nostalgia of one’s young college self is deeply aspirational to me,” he says. “I hope to keep a lot of that spirit alive in me. It wanes over the years, and I’m looking forward to getting a big shot in the arm of my younger former self. I’m hoping it will be terribly rejuvenating.”