- Our Journey
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I was recently at a luncheon for women CEOs and one of the other CEOs asked me a question, which made me think maybe others have the same question. And when she was so interested in my answer, I knew it was a topic I could share with everyone here.
“How do you go from being an employment lawyer to being a shoe manufacturer?” Well, the road has not been easy and neither is the answer.
If you’ve read Our Journey, then you know where I started and where Pakems is in our journey today. But I want to share with you the challenges and barriers of entering the footwear industry.
As I returned from Cortina, Italy, I wasn’t sure where to begin. I knew no other product on the market had the attributes I was looking for in an après shoe. I wanted comfort, style, warmth, water-resistance and of course, lightweight and packable. These have become the cornerstones of brand and it is what drives us today, even as we look forward towards our Summer Shoe, set to launch in Spring 2015.
I was fortunate to find a couple of ex-Nike designers in Portland, OR and flew out to meet with them after I had collected several different types of shoes, all with one or two little design features I liked and wanted somehow to incorporate in my design. I have to admit, meeting with the former Nike designers was like a crash course in the footwear industry. When I walked out of those meetings, I not only had a sketched out shoe design, but I had an education as well.
Next up in the process was finding a factory to take my drawings from paper to product. I was set on finding a factory in the US, but the price point of the boots became unrealistic for the market. It wasn’t going to do anyone any good if I had a boot made in the USA, but so expensive, no one would buy it. So I set off for Mexico. And though I was slightly bummed I couldn’t make a US factory work, I was pretty excited about Mexico, after all, my Spanish vocabulary consisted of Cerveza por favor and tequila y limon.
I was able to get a few samples made from a factory in Mexico and just in time for my very first trade show, Outdoor Retailer. I took my 2 samples with me and walked around talking to people about my idea. What I came to love [and still love to this day} is how friendly, helpful and open the outdoor industry is to everyone. Whether you are a manufacturer, a retailer or just someone with an idea like I was, the people are extremely friendly and I truly feel they wanted nothing but success for me.
I’m grateful for all those who have helped me along this far. Pakems has become a very successful solution shoe and we’ve come so far. Stay tuned for my next blog entry, where I will continue my story on going from lawyer to shoe manufacturer.