Rothy’s CEO and Co-Founder Talks Future of Sustainability and New Men’s Line at FN CEO Summit 2021

Even for companies rooted in sustainability, there is always room to improve.

Stephen Hawthornthwaite, CEO and co-founder of Rothy’s, spoke to Nikara Johns, Senior Editor at FN, about the brand’s eco evolution at FN’s Virtual CEO Summit on June 10.

“What we have committed to in terms of a goal is to initiate a recycling pilot this year, and next year to start incorporating materials that are twice recycled. And then by 2023, we want to be fully circular, which that means majority of the materials in our footwear are recycled or two times, and that we have an end of life design for the product.”

Stephen Hawthornthwaite, Rothy's, FN CEO Summit, Nikara Johns
Nikara Johns and Stephen Hawthornthwaite

The executive also touched on some of the biggest challenges for sustainability across the industry —  it can be hard for established companies to make the changes needed to become more eco-friendly.

Hawthornthwaite said that as a newer company, Rothy’s had the benefit of starting off with sustainability top of mind, rather than having to incorporate it later on.

The company, founded in 2012, has been focused on women’s products made from recycled plastic water bottles since its inception. In May, it launched a men’s line, adding sustainable options to the underserved market. “Believe it or not, it has been our most requested product and category since we launched,” Hawthronthwaite said.

Rothy’s released two silhouettes for men, including a lace-up sneaker and a loafer.

The company operates with a direct-to-consumer model through its website and a handful of stores around the United States. Its first location in Chicago opened in May, and Hawthornthwaite revealed plans to open more locations, with the goal of expanding internationally.

Among the big lessons Hawthornthwaite learned during the pandemic? The importance of being flexible and resilient.

Summit sponsors include presenting sponsor PayPal and event sponsors Aetrex, Caleres, FDRA, K-Swiss, Riskified, SkyPad, Sperry, Two Ten and Zappos.

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