For Skribbies, shoes are a blank canvas.
The British startup, founded by banker-turned-entrepreneur Jennifer Duthie in 2013, is creating big buzz with its customizable footwear for kids. Inspired by Duthie’s own childhood memories of decorating her sneakers and T-shirts with fabric paints, Skribbies shoes feature specially designed white uppers that can be colored on.
But what makes the shoes different is that the designs can be wiped clean. “Instead of a one-time project, kids can customize their shoes over and over again,” Duthie said. “With Skribbies, it’s like having a whiteboard on your shoe.”
Priced at $55, each pair of Skribbies comes with a set of markers, a sheet of decorative stickers and a fabric wristband for erasing drawings. Currently, the brand offers both high-top and low-top sneakers, but Duthie is hoping to add other styles such as boots and ballet flats.
She’s also focused on taking the brand into additional categories. In December, Skribbies introduced baseball caps, and it is developing a line of clothing with customizable elements. “We want to find fun ways for kids to get creative [through fashion],” Duthie noted.
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In addition to selling on its website, Skribbies works with footwear retailers and distributors in France, Germany, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. Now, the brand is turning its sights to the U.S. “America is a market where we see huge opportunity for our concept, so we’re starting to investigate and meet with potential distributors,” Duthie said.
Back home in the U.K., Skribbies already enjoys strong brand recognition, thanks to Duthie’s 2014 appearance on “Dragons’ Den,” the British equivalent of American TV series “Shark Tank.” Her pitch landed her $85,000 in funding from dragons Kelly Hoppen and Piers Linney.
“We had a group of kids there, demonstrating how to use the product,” said Duthie. “Kids get so excited about being able to draw right on their shoes — when you get Skribbies in their hands, it’s an easy sell.”