Earlier this summer, Sole Society received an $8 million cash infusion from Nordstrom and Insight Partners, and the women’s footwear and accessories brand has already put some of those funds to work.
Today, the Los Angeles-based firm, which launched online in 2011, made its first foray into owned retail, opening a brick-and-mortar store in Santa Monica, Calif. The 2,250-sq.-ft. space, at the Santa Monica Place shopping mall, will stock Sole Society’s full line of footwear, handbags, jewelry, scarves and hats and offer a first look at new items before they appear on the website.
In keeping with its digital background, Sole Society has equipped the shop with an omnichannel element. An in-store digital kiosk gives customers access to the company’s full inventory — in-store and online — and offers a range of buying and shipping capabilities.
In addition to Sole Society product, the store also will feature a curated collection of apparel, home and beauty items from like-minded labels and local designers. For the launch, the brand partnered with L.A.-based sustainable designer StyleSaint on an apparel collaboration to pair with current Sole Society heels.
To find out more about this initiative, Footwear News spoke with Sole Society CEO Andy Solomon.
What prompted you to enter the brick-and-mortar world?
“As you know, we’re born on the Web and have been selling direct for a handful of years, and then we began wholesaling to select stores, like our partner Nordstrom. So this was a natural extension for us. We want to be where the customer is. It makes sense for us to express the brand and showcase our product [in a physical space], and it gives us a chance to meet new customers and get to know existing customers in a more intimate way.”
How did you select the Santa Monica spot?
“We spent a lot of time thinking about different locations, and Santa Monica Place has a number of interesting characteristics. The mall has strong retail co-tenancy — Uniqlo, Cheesecake Factory, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s are there, so it puts us in a set of nationally recognized brands. And the mall attracts a mix of local folks and visitiors and tourists, so we get exposure to people outside the L.A. area. We also see this as an opportunity to learn what’s the best way to do [our own retail], and since we’re based close by, in Culver City, we can much more easily learn and react to evolve the customer experience.”
Are there plans for more stores?
“Obviously, we want to have great experience this fall. Depending on how well we do, that will determine the timeline of when we might open more retail stores.”
What other projects are under way for Sole Society?
“Our presence at Nordstrom is growing, and next week, we’re sending out the first Sole Society catalog. It will go to current customers and prospects and to an extended list of shoppers who look like our current customers. We hope to be successful in both those areas.”