Freshly Picked had a bumper year in 2017, but the baby shoe brand has even bigger plans for 2018.
“My dream is to build Freshly Picked into a legacy brand that lasts long after me. That’s where my sights are set, so we’re just grinding away and pushing as hard as we can to take the business where I know it can go. Every year, we want to top what we did the year before,” said founder Susan Petersen, whose Utah-based firm is prepping to launch eight more product categories, expand its sandal collection, debut additional shoe styles and reintroduce its line of hard-sole footwear.
The ambitious agenda follows a year that saw the brand — a Hollywood favorite, famous for its fringed leather moccasins — significantly expand its collection with a series of soft-sole styles, including Mary Janes, oxfords, penny loafers and Chelsea booties. “Occasions really drive the baby shoe business, whether it’s weddings or holidays, so now we have a much broader offering for that,” Petersen noted.
In a move toward extending its reach beyond babies, the brand also debuted a line of rubber-sole sandals, available in bigger-kid sizes. “We started with a single style, just to test the waters, and it’s been very successful. So we’ll be adding additional styles this year,” Petersen said. “We’re also bringing back our hard-sole collection [originally launched in 2016] after reworking the designs a bit based on customer feedback.”
The brand’s expanded offering has been quite popular with Zappos customers, according to infant footwear buyer Monfred Miranda. “The different categories give Freshly Picked fans more stylish options to choose from in months you don’t normally think of putting moccasins on your little one. The sandals, for instance, were an instant hit,” Miranda said, noting the brand does a great job of keeping the collection fresh. “Just following them on social media, you can see they are always trying to stay ahead of the game.”
After branching out with a diaper bag last June, Freshly Picked is exploring other non-shoe categories related to babies and moms. “Baby shoes obviously aren’t relevant to every parent, so putting out new products allows us to grow our customer base across different age groups and experiences that moms are having,” explained Petersen.
Collaborations remain a key focus as well. Last year, the brand unveiled buzzy collections with Disney, Care Bears, Hello Kitty and NASA, and Petersen said there are more in the works. “For our consumers, collaborations create that magical feeling when two friends you know are going to be perfect for each other finally meet and totally hit it off.”
Amid all the growth and expansion, Petersen has stayed firm in her decision — made very early on — to focus primarily on a direct-to-consumer model, a strategy that’s being embraced by a growing number of shoe brands.
Eighty percent of Freshly Picked’s sales are generated from its own website, while the remaining 20 percent come from wholesale accounts such as Nordstrom and Buy Buy Baby. “It’s very important to us to know and understand our customers — who they are, how they came to our brand, what they buy — and to own that relationship with them,” she said. “When you sell to wholesale, you’re completely removed from the consumer.”
To deepen its customer engagement, Freshly Picked is active on social media. But as its channels have evolved and populated, the label is exploring new ways to take a more targeted approach. “We’re a brand that was born out of Instagram. But now we have more than 820,000 followers, which begins to feel too big to be a community. So we’re trying to build lots of microcommunities around different customer groups and interests. The smaller the community, the more engaged people are with your brand.”