What’s the founder’s backstory and how did they come up with the idea?
While working in the footwear industry for several years, Steve Hamel often heard men from all walks of life complain about the lack of comfort in men’s dress shoes. He set out on a mission to produce a line of men’s dress shoes that would perform every bit as well as one’s favorite running shoes. After solving that problem, Steve set out to be the most responsible manufacturer he could be by using a great deal of materials made from recycled product and reduced air pollutants by using water-based glues.
What’s your “why”?
The company started because Steve Hamel was able to solve a problem no one has solved to date, and that was to produce a high performance dress shoe that matched the comfort of the best running shoes in the industry. Furthermore, being able to provide a non-leather, highly sustainable product would appeal to today’s knowledge based consumers.
What’s your flagship product?
The main products we sell at this point are men’s dress and dress-casual shoes. While our black dress shoes sell the best, we view our flagship product as our rainbow colored dress shoes which signify inclusivity while looking great.
Why does sustainability matter?
Quite simply, it is all about being responsible. Either we are going to take on the challenge of being as responsible as possible, and we will continue to find ways to increase the amount of sustainable materials we use. Furthermore, we will continue to insure our workers are not breathing in harmful VOCs associated with oil based glues by insuring we use only water based glues.
Do you contribute to your local community?
As a start-up, we feel it is so very important to put community first, and we do so by supporting the Boys and Girls club of America whenever we can, and by contributing to different cancer prevention programs on a periodic basis.
Advice for other social entrepreneurs starting out?
If at all possible, identify a problem that needs to be solved, and do so with conviction. Also, while it takes more initially, please do everything you can to be as responsible as possible for current and future generations.