Oofos President Steve Gallo on the Outdoor Recovery-Focused OOcandoo, Supply Chain Woes and Pro Athlete Ambassadors

Recovery footwear is having a moment, and few companies are capitalizing like Oofos.

Since COVID-19 hit stateside, the brand has tapped former NFL stars Deion Sanders and Alex Smith as ambassadors, and delivered several silhouettes that people seeking comfort and recovery love. The most recent style revealed by Oofos is the OOcandoo, a closed-toe look made for the outdoor adventurer, another consumer group that grew in size in the past year-plus as a result of COVID.

While at The Running Event trade show in Austin, Texas, Oofos president Steve Gallo spoke with FN about the OOcandoo as well as the supply chain backlog and more.

Who is the OOcandoo for?

Steve Gallo: “It was developed really for folks who recover from outdoor hikes and camping trips. We have a lot of customers who were using a carabiner on their backpacks with our sandals and they wanted something that they could still have the breathability of a sandal but more of a closed toe.”

What does the OOcandoo do for the Oofos product range?

SG: “We have mostly open-toe product, which is what we started with, and those have been our most popular models. But we’ve got so many requests from people for product beyond just sandals. With the OOcandoo, we’ve seen such an explosion of people getting outside to experience the environment, with COVID getting people who want to exercise more and want to hike, so we’ve had a lot of people that are asking for a product that they can wear in that environment.”

Why is now the right time to bring the OOcandoo to the market?

SG: “Comfort, obviously, is subjective. But people are starting to understand the concept recovery, what it means in your life. The definition around it for footwear and relaxation, I want to stay at my best to keep doing the things I love at the level I want to do them at. That is something that really came out of this whole idea of people working from home and dealing with the stresses that we’ve all had to deal with. And with the explosion in the outdoor business and people getting outside more, climbing mountains, etc., it made total sense.”

How do you ensure people are still seeking Oofos for comfort and recovery as COVID restrictions continue to loosen and a sense of normalcy returns?

SG: “The answer is really we’re more than comfort. We’re recovery. We have a licensed proprietary technology called OOfoam that we keep under lock and key. We know what that provides the consumer is beyond comfort.”

How has the supply chain backlog impacted Oofos?

SG: “Like most people, we’ve definitely missed sales through the summer months, but we’re actually in very good shape. We’re fortunate our factory in Vietnam did not shut down 100%. It was 50% capacity, so we still had products coming in. The one thing with the port congestion, transit time from our factory to our warehouse in the U.S., has been a big challenge. But our operations team has done a great job working with different folks. And like many folks, we’ve had to fly product in, air freight some product in. We’re a small company, so it can certainly get expensive, but it’s helped us a lot.”

Two notable Oofos ambassadors are Deion Sanders and Alex Smith, both now-retired NFL stars. What do you look for in an ambassador?

SG: “So No. 1 is those relationships with Alex and Deion, those are authentic relationships. They found the product, they utilized the product — Alex during his recovery, he obviously at a very tough injury to deal with, and then Deion the same thing, he had multiple surgeries on his feet and loved what the product provided him. For us, authenticity is a key value in our company and we want to make sure the people who work with us from an ambassadorship perspective that they believe in the product. We also have Dawn Staley, who is the South Carolina basketball coach. A fantastic person. She’s another one who found Oofos. I love when she tells the story about how she has Oofos in her car and her, Oofos in her foyer, under her desk in her office. She’s been great. The other one that works with us is Guy Fieri.”

Aside from the OOcandoo, what other styles could people look forward to in 2022?

SG: “We’re bringing an indoor winter slipper, if you will, called the OOcoozie. We’ve got that coming because we got a lot from people saying, ‘My feet get cold in the winter wearing your sandals in my house,’ so we developed to the fleece upper. There’s a mule version and a slip-on. That will be for January.”

What is still missing from the OOfos product assortment?

SG: “We’re going to focus a bit more on more sport-oriented models. We’ve got plenty of product, there’s a lot of momentum right now in closed-toe product, like the OOmg eeZE and those type of shoes. We get a lot of people that say, ‘I’ve heard great things about your brand and your products, do you have a shoe?’ so people are starting to gravitate toward that. We’re updating colors and so on and so forth. We’ve also got a winter recovery boot called the OObootie. Those are coming back in stock and we’re excited about that as well.”

How has the holiday shopping season been for Oofos? And what are your expectations from now until the season comes to a close?

SG: “What we saw November was an uptick earlier, which most people did. You had those folks were nervous about supply chain and said I’m going to get make my holiday presents, so they bought early. We had record Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend with DTC and our U.S.-based retail customers, which was great. We had large year-on-year gains for the weekend. We introduced a lot of new colors, we have our new ad campaign that came out with Alex Smith, and that helped drive it a lot. We also have a few new colors coming in our shoes this month that should be very good as well. I think it’s going to continue to be strong, people are still still looking for holiday gifts, people like me who wait for the last minute.”

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