Arc of Yates
It's been a while since we last updated you, let's recap, shall we? We've begun transformation of our factory space to a production facility, found and secured independent sales representatives, traveled the country with our reps selling our Spring 2011 line, been interviewed and highlighted in large industry publications, secured the services of a social media expert, attended our first trade show, and gave a keynote address at an entrepreneurial symposium.
Equipment arrives daily and we have been busy setting up the various machines including a computer guided stitching machine, a double needle sewing machine, an automatic angle cut hot knife, two embroidery heads, a laser etch machine, and a really cool, big air compressor. More equipment arrives later this month and in the beginning of November. We plan to be operational by the middle of next month.
Since August, we've been on the road showing our independent sales representatives how to best position and sell our product line. We've worked with our representatives in the Mid-Atlantic region, Florida, Texas, Southern California, and the Northwest on the finer points of positioning our product and telling the story behind the product, with several sales orders entered by our October 15 prebook deadline. In all, the reception at retail has been slightly stronger than anticipated within our target distribution channels. We're proud to have placed orders in some of the country's most respected surf shops, such as Surfside in Costa Mesa, CA, Whalebone in Nags Head, NC, Mad Dogs Surf Shop in Daytona Beach, FL, Wave Riding Vehicles in the Outer Banks and Virginia Beach, VA, Surf & Adventure Co. in Virginia Beach, VA, Wind and Wave Water Sports in Corpus Christi, TX, PB Surf Shop in Pacific Beach, CA, and Outer Banks Boarding Company in NC.
In August, thanks to our friends at Turner Public Relations, we were interviewed for a piece in Footwear News, which is the largest industry publication in the footwear industry. We were featured in an article in this weekly publication on July 12, and quickly became the #1 most emailed article of the week on their website. The full article can be found here. On August 30, Shop-Eat-Surf.com, the most widely read industry website in the surf industry, ran a feature on us as well. The full interview and story can be found here.
We’re also happy to have secured the services of Mary Buckley to manage all of our social media communications. Mary manages our Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as our blog and a few things we don't fully understand. Mary works closely with Turner PR and our management team to coordinate our messaging across all channels.
Surf Expo in Orlando, FL, from September 8th-10th, marked our first public outing at a trade show, as we manned a 10' x 20' booth. We were able to get our brand name in front of more than 2,300 retailers in attendance at the show, including many from our target, core surf distribution channel. We had samples and full size displays in our booth, and were able to speak to many buyers from across the East Coast and beyond. Feedback was very positive to the product and the story, and all agreed that we've created a solid niche for ourselves in the surf sandal market. Most commented that it was about time somebody made a good, American-made sandal. Many buyers commented that they'd read about us in either Footwear News or Shop-Eat-Surf.com, and were looking forward to seeing the product first hand. Overall, it was a positive show and will translate into sales we may not have had as we moved closer to our October 15 prebook deadline.
On Saturday, September 18, we gave the keynote address at Finger Lakes Community College's Entrepreneur Symposium. The full press release for the event can be found here. We spoke to a group of about 25 potential entrepreneurs, told our story with a focus on what we'd learned over the past year and a half, and took part in a panel discussion. In all, it was a rewarding and educational experience. We will forward any follow-up releases if and when they become available.
Well, that’s our last six months in a nutshell. We look forward to the next steps in our progress, and rolling fresh sandals off the production line later this year.
John and Mike
Sandals really shouldn’t be hard. They mean different things to different people – summer, vacation, freedom, the beach, everyday foot covering (for those lucky enough) – but they shouldn’t be hard. They should be easy.
They should be comfortable as soon as you put them on. They should be made from materials and processes that are less harmful to the earth – or better yet - fully sustainable, recycled, or even recyclable. And why can’t they be made here in the US – providing jobs here and keeping our hard-earned sandal money in our own economy? Oh yeah, and they should be every bit as comfortable and durable as any other sandal without costing much more.
Well, that’s what we think. We’re out to prove it can be done. It’s going to be a pretty challenging journey to get there. For one, there aren’t any sandal factories like that in the US, so we’re going to have to build our own. Then there’s the fact that since no sandals are made here, the raw materials are pretty hard to come by. Plus the fact that some of the processes and materials we ultimately want to use don’t exist yet.
High quality, domestically manufactured, environmentally sound.
That’s the challenge we’ve accepted. We’re going to make them here. We’re going to make them with methods and materials that are friendlier to the environment, that reduce or reuse waste, and we’re going to keep pushing until we make the closed loop sandal. We’re going to do this all without sacrificing any fit, quality, or comfort you should expect from a good pair of flip flops – we actually think we can do a bit better. After all, the greenest, most job-producing sandals in the world aren’t any good if you get blisters on vacation.
We’re a long way from our goal. We’re a pretty fair distance from the starting line. We hope you join with us and follow our efforts along the way. We’ll be sharing some of our ideas and methods here and we welcome your comments, support, and criticism. We hope you check back soon, and we’ll discuss some of the events that got us believing we could make sandals here, and make sandals better.