From Kickstarter to Soho: How a Startup Boot Brand Gained Its Footing

Nolan Walsh and Connor Wilson, the founders of Thursday Boot Co., admit they often put their fashion needs before those of their customers. “All designs start somewhat selfishly,” said Walsh. “[A new style] is something we wanted. So we launch it, gauge customer reaction and go from there.”

So far, the partners have been on target. Since debuting their direct-to-consumer men’s boot label on Kickstarter in 2014, the business has more than doubled each year. Contributing to strong results was the 2016 addition of women’s footwear, which now accounts for 30 percent of sales. And in April, the men’s assortment expanded with several low-profile classic styles, such as loafers and brogues.

While the company operates in a crowded e-commerce space, the partners attribute their success to a clean aesthetic. “We let the quality of craftsmanship and materials do the talking,” said Walsh. The brand offers updated classics made mainly in Mexico and priced at $149 to $300. A smaller pinnacle collection produced in Arkansas sells for $249 to $350.

The founders are also focused on staying connected to their consumers. “Something that I do every month is read all customer issues,” said Walsh, who will tweak the line based on feedback. “That nimbleness goes into creating custom eyelets and updating the rubber sole compound.”

Today, Thursday Boot sells to customers in every state and 75 countries. Walsh said the brand targets “a particularly intelligent community of people who understand the value of construction and high-quality materials, and who care about ethical sourcing.” Regarding the latter, for fall ’18, the company is adding vegan shoes to its collection.

Other updates to the line this fall include hiking boots and jodhpurs for men and an expanded women’s line. And for the first time, men’s outerwear will be offered.

Although the entrepreneurs remain committed to e-commerce, they said they realize some customers prefer a more traditional shopping experience. So last year, Thursday Boot moved into an office and retail space in New York’s Flatiron District.

And this fall, the brand is planning to open a pop-up shop in the nearby Soho neighborhood. Said Wilson, “There are some customers who just want to see and feel the product.”

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