Thursday, December 1, 2016

BucketFeet Trying to Reinvent Footwear

BucketFeet trying to reinvent footwear

Every company has a mission, and every brand has a purpose. For some, it’s about a cause or a deep-seated desire for change. For others, it’s about innovation or just making as much money as possible. All noble goals. For footwear company BucketFeet, the goal is to connect people through art.

The company began as the epitome of the Everyman Makes Good story. Raaja Nemani and Aaron Firestein met while volunteering at a slum in Argentina. Firestein was working as a photographer in the country, but, as a hobby, he painted plain white Converse and sold them through Facebook.

Nemani, an investment banker on vacation, bought a pair of Firestein’s shoes for himself. No matter where he traveled, the shoes sparked conversation. In an interview with CNN, Nemani called the shoes a “great icebreaker” … “Everywhere I went, people would ask me about them, whether I was in a country in Africa or Southeast Asia. I had this really interesting story to tell because there was an artist behind the shoes and a story behind the art.”

So, why not give other people the opportunity for this experience? That was the idea behind what would become BucketFeet, a new enterprise on the rise. The plan is to give artists a place to sell their work, mostly custom-designed shoes. It’s a simple formula. Artists create designs. If those designs are put into production, the artist gets $250 up front and a buck for every pair sold. The concept exploded in the international art community. Now, more than 40,000 artists are on board, vying for attention and sales.

So, there’s no doubt BucketFeet will be able to maintain a fresh product line. The struggle will be to make it worth the artists’ time to create the work. Market saturation could be a real issue here, and standing out in a very crowded market could be a tough hill to climb for any artist. That said, it’s a tremendous opportunity for an artist who knows how to market, collaborate, and connect.

For help with this, BucketFeet recently launched an interactive program where customers – or potential customers – can vote on their favorite designs. This gives the company actionable information, showing them which designs are more likely to sell. This helps smart artists too. If they figure out what the market wants, they can deliver that with more accuracy and efficiency, increasing their profit and their success rate.

David Milberg is a financial analyst in NYC.

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