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Cudas Grows Sport Business

Sandal and watersport shoemaker Cudas is adding styles to its offering and targeting a wider variety of retailers.

“We were doing business coastally, with people using [the product] on the beach and on vacation, but with the popularity of activities such as stand up paddle and ocean kayaking, we’re selling to as many inland accounts as coastal accounts,” said Andy Jacobs, founder and CEO of the Richmond, Va.-based brand. “So we’ve been trying to develop the business even more and claim it as our niche in the outdoor specialty market.”

Jacobs, who runs the label with his brother, Stephen, said Cudas has been introducing more watersport-friendly styles to its core sandal and water shoe offering for the past few seasons. This spring, the brand offered six new styles aimed at the stand up paddle, kayaking and canoeing markets. All feature foot protection and outsoles with grip, as well as breathable meshes and fabrics on the uppers. And for spring ’14, the company will introduce even more.

The move, explained Andy Jacobs, allows Cudas to expand its top-tier product line. While a big part of the business is in the $20 to $35 price range, the more-athletic product falls between $50 and $60.

The prices, Jacobs said, help Cudas find a niche in the outdoor and surf specialty shops, as well as some sporting goods and shoe stores. “We’re set up to offer specialty stores an affordable opening price point,” he said. “That’s where we really own the market, and we let specialty shops offer something so they don’t [lose] the customer to a discounter.”

To support the new product, Cudas has upped its grassroots outreach, sponsoring more lifestyle events including the three-day Dominion Riverrock festival next month in the brand’s hometown. (This is the second year the company has been a sponsor.)

“We enjoy connecting with consumers on that level,” Jacobs said. “We’re just regular people, and we’re living what we’re selling.”

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