An area shoe startup that mashes up the sturdiness of vinyl with the model of the traditional driving idler has shifted to elevated e-commerce gross sales and on-line advertising in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The corporate, based mostly 30 miles north of Dallas in Roanoke, received its begin as a result of certainly one of its founders was in search of the proper trip shoe.
Hayes Brumbeloe, chief government officer and co-founder of Floafers, grew up in North Carolina sporting driving loafers and boat footwear his total life. Earlier than a trip to the Bahamas six years in the past, Brumbeloe wished to discover a shoe that he might get moist on the seaside, however would look ok to put on to a bar or restaurant later that evening.
“We had about two weeks earlier than the journey, and so I jumped on Google, however I couldn’t discover something,” Brumbeloe mentioned. “And I had at all times liked the utility of EVA foam, the way it was used with different manufacturers, however the model for me wasn’t there.”
EVA foam is utilized in quite a lot of client merchandise, typically as padding in ski boots, bike seats, flip-flops, boxing and martial arts gloves and helmets, and sports activities footwear. It’s light-weight and waterproof.
On the time, Brumbeloe was a medical gross sales consultant, however he had studied entrepreneurship at Western Carolina College. With the assistance of Dan Rubertone, present chief working officer and co-founder of Floafers, they launched a crowdfunding marketing campaign on Kickstarter in February 2017.
“Hayes and I assumed this could be a very good method to not solely increase cash with out having to provide away fairness early on, but in addition making an attempt to get validation of our product,” mentioned Rubertone, who has a gross sales background at a number of North Texas firms. “And that’s when Hayes and I actually realized that we’ve received one thing right here and we’ve received one thing that buyers need.”
Floafers’ Kickstarter marketing campaign raised about $160,000 in 60 days, Rubertone mentioned. The corporate additionally raised $3.1 million from traders in line with Crunchbase, which tracks startup funding.
Rubertone wouldn’t disclose income figures, although he mentioned it’s nearer to 5 instances the $440,479 a yr listed by Dun & Bradstreet.
Floafers affords footwear for males, girls, and youngsters. Not like its rivals, Floafers is designed with an higher sole made out of EVA foam and an outer sole with a rubber pod system to make the shoe slip-resistant.
As a result of pandemic, Floafers has shifted to deal with direct to client on-line gross sales fairly than wholesaler gross sales. Nonetheless, Floafers will nonetheless proceed to promote to wholesalers like DSW, Shoe Carnival, West Marine and Macy’s.
Brumbeloe mentioned the passion behind their product is pushed by its versatility for daytime and nighttime.
“We received a man down in Miami, who runs this very excessive finish automotive dealership. He lives in his loafers daily. This man’s sporting Gucci from his ankle, after which he’s received Floafers on, prefer it’s loopy,” Brumbeloe mentioned. “It’s a kind of issues the place a variety of our development is actually natural, and that’s what’s so particular.”
Regardless of the pandemic, the model remains to be seeing development, tripling its enterprise over 2019 and the primary six months of 2020, Rubertone mentioned. Floafers has additionally elevated its promoting spending tenfold.
“We knew that folks weren’t going out. They weren’t procuring. So we targeted on customers the place they had been nonetheless shopping for, it was simply on-line. We needed to pivot and deal with our direct to client enterprise as it’s the driver of our enterprise at present,” Rubertone mentioned.
Floafers manufactures its footwear in Vietnam. Rubertone mentioned Floafers was fortunate that its manufacturing wasn’t disrupted as a lot as for shoe firms that relied on Chinese language producers.
“We now have made ordering our product a serious focus, and even ordering greater than we usually would, simply in case there’s a disruption within the provide chain,” Brumbeloe mentioned. “Let’s say worst-case situations, factories begin shutting down the world over. We wish to ensure that we are able to nonetheless service our prospects.”
Brumbeloe and Rubertone don’t contemplate Floafers a seasonal product, regardless of it being marketed as a shoe for seaside holidays and outside actions. Brumbeloe mentioned its two busiest instances of the yr are the primary three months, when wholesalers are shopping for and the final three months, when customers are procuring.
As the vacation procuring season nears, the Floafers founders count on the pandemic to proceed driving on-line gross sales. And so they’ve added bigger males’s sizes (as much as 16) and extra toddler sizes.
“We’re getting equipped and we’re ready to take full benefit of the vacation season,” Rubertone mentioned.