by Jeffrey Henderson·
In 2018 we designed a simple shoe in order to have complex conversations. The carbon fiber plate, molded sockliner, industrial laces, seamless tongue and textured lining for $99 are insider details that industry insiders appreciate. Without a grandiose marketing plan or influencer support we understood that we weren’t going to attract a large audience.
We were focused on universal comfort, customer support, supply chain mechanics and the overall interest to keep going. That last part may sound surprising but there was no guarantee that we’d be willing to continue with NinetyNine Products even if we were successful.
So we treated this brand like the side project it was intended to be. We entertained being more over the last year, but we maintained a focus that didn’t appeal to most investors.
Different Like Everybody Else
The Dad shoe. The Ugly shoe. The Craft shoe. We missed all of these waves because they felt like waves. The ocean is deep and we simply wanted to wade in the middle of the blue while trends crashed onto the beaches of retail. Our competitive advantage is decades of understanding what works over the long haul. We love brands that have moments. Maybe one day we will have ours.
For now, we are learning.
Look at Me
We created a ‘good’ shoe for good people and we have more good shoes in the wings. We were okay being overlooked but the idea of celebrating those that are overlooked meant that we needed something of intrigue.
So we sampled an array of colors to choose from. We went from trendy to tried and placed our handiwork on the table. Our small team didn’t agree on a winner, but we agreed on a statement.
Owning a color is one part originality and one part consistency. You have to have something that no one else has and then you have to dedicate yourself to living it nonstop. “Does it come in white or black?” is answered with a smile and the acceptance that you might not make a sell today.
Our initial offering helped us have a conversation that we won’t forget. After more than a year we are ready to try something new. Actually, we are planning something bigger than that but we want to take our time.
We’ve been listening to the people who’ve invested their time into our brand. We know how difficult it is to wear yellow shoes. We have eyes. We have feet.
We also know that our sizing was off. So we are fixing that. And we will introduce larger and smaller sizes.
Over the next couple of months we will focus on the little things that make a difference. And we will turn our attention to getting more people to pay attention to what we are doing.
All of these little things take a more than a little time. We just wanted to let you know that we are still celebrating people who help people.