Bright Soles, Dr. Jocelyn Kelly

Bright Soles, Dr. Jocelyn Kelly
Jocelyn has spent her career traveling to remote places few people have access to in order to build relationships with communities affected by crisis. Her work takes her everywhere from UN headquarters in Geneva to Obo, Africa’s pole of inaccessibility. She lives for street food and motorbikes and almost always forgets to charge her satellite phone, much to the dismay of her colleagues and loved ones.
Tell us about your work

I work on advancing human rights in places which have experienced instability caused by natural disasters, long-term climate-change or war. Obviously, the topic can be challenging but the best part of my work, hands-down, is working with my colleagues in these areas. They are incredible up-standers and human rights defenders – the kind of people who see a situation getting worse and find creative and brave ways to make a difference. Getting the chance to work with, and learn from, people like this makes this feel like the best job in the world. 

Work often finds you in some of the most remote places. How do you establish a connection with people when you first meet them?

This is so important. If people don’t trust you, they won’t want to collaborate with you. I’ve worked in some places for over a decade. Coming back over the years and committing to the community definitely helps build bridges. But when I’m working in a new place, I try to learn some key phrases in the local language. I just learned how to say “did you sleep well?” in Pazande, a tribal language found in central Africa. It’s “mubeti belame” – super fun to say. And, at the very least, if your pronunciation is bad, it gets everyone giggling. 

our Bright Sole, Jocelyn, sharing a meal

With all that travel, packing is key. What are some of your most prized tips? 

A friend gave me a travel-sized lavender candle and some lavender essential oils. The smell has such a calming, warm association for me. It’s grounding to have a ritual that doesn’t change, even when I’m sleeping in a different place every night.

 On a more practical level – I have a kit of clothes ready to go. They are complimentary colors so every piece matches the other. I do a lot of ‘sink-laundry’ so earth tones are a bonus since I’m not the greatest at getting out every spot ;)

Jocelyn in a tiny plane, wearing Laiik's Greek leather sandals

How do you achieve balance between work and life? What is your happy place?

It’s really hard to know when “a lot” of travel becomes “too much.” This year, I’ve been gone almost constantly. But some of the grandest adventures happen right where you live. We have a rooftop patio and my partner and I started a garden. In the summer, we grow our own greens and herbs – its been one of the most unexpectedly fun hobbies I’ve ever had. When I’ve been gone for a long time, I ask him to take photos of the garden because I miss home so much. Seeing the plants change is also a concrete way of seeing time pass and helps remind me when it’s time to come home.   

And finally, what's your favorite sandal? 

This is a tough one since I’m a huge Laiik fan and have a collection of sandals. However, I’m going to go with my first love -- the Meli. It’s both the most comfortable and the stylish sandal I pack on my trips. I feel like it makes any outfit that much hipper and the leather is a like a hug for my feet :D

In honor of Women's Day, we asked Jocelyn which organization she believes provides the best support where it's needed the most. She chose, Invisible Children, an organization that works alongside central Africa's most remote and vulnerable communities to help them end violent conflict and recover from its impact.

This week from today until March 15th, we're donating 15% of all purchases to the Invisible Children.

Jocelyn in Laiik sandals, Meli Block Heel Mules