Sam Edelman, Dee Ocleppo-Hilfiger, Sarah Flint and Other Entrepreneurs Offer Branding Tips in ‘Footwear Business Foundations’

When starting a business, there is nothing more valuable than the advice of others who have faced the struggles of entrepreneurship and found success. Those knowledgeable insights are at the core of the FN x FIT Footwear Business Foundations course, powered by Yellowbrick.

The online educational series, which launched in September and is available now, delves into all the nuances of establishing a shoe brand and provides the tools necessary to build something from the ground up. The course features commentary from a range of experts, including FIT faculty, FN editors and executives from major footwear companies.

The course offers over 15 hours of instruction and “project time” that spans five modules. In module 1, speakers covered the evolution of the footwear industry, various business models, as well as how to develop a team that will embrace and execute on the brand vision.

[Click here to learn more about Footwear Business Foundations as well as to enroll.]

Module 2 delved into some of the big questions around design and production, including how to find a factory and why you need tech packs.

In the third module, “Branding,” participants learn about the principles of branding, including logo development, packaging, collaboration and social media outreach. And they learn from some highly established footwear entrepreneurs, including designers Sam Edelman, Dee Ocleppo-Hilfiger, Sarah Flint and Jessica Rich, as well as Koio co-founder Chris Wichert.

Below is a sample of some of the wisdom these experts impart:

Why Logos Matter:

“We didn’t have any money when we started off. You know, we need money to advertise. So the only thing I could think to myself is, let’s put the logo huge inside the bottoms of the shoes. Today, on the average morning, I speak to over 20 million women in their underwear because they get up, they go in their closet and they look down and my logo is the biggest logo they see in their closet.” — Sam Edelman

“I think it’s really one of the hardest parts about developing a business is finding what that logo is and how it will resonate not only with people, but how you can carry that through, how it will look on a product and hopefully look original — original, but also familiar.” — Dee Ocleppo-Hilfiger

Taking Care with the Packaging:

“I was shipping all my shoes in bags to save costs — like plastic poly mailers with my logo. I thought that was great until my customers got mad. It’s because they think, you know, you’re spending money on nice shoes, they want to box it all properly. So now I spend extra on these nice big boxes — that they’re still going to throw away in 1 minute, but they have to look good on the doorstep. It’s crazy but you have to just go with the flow of things and just listen to your customer.” — Jessica Rich

“My CFO will tell you [our shoeboxes are] exorbitantly expensive, but I believe incredibly important. Each shoe comes in individual dust bags. The dust bags are a beautiful felt that you can then reuse within that packaging. There are little cards signed by the artisan who finished their shoe in Italy. It talks about the different properties and comfort features things like that. It’s tied with a ribbon that says ‘Walk like a woman,’ which is our slogan. The way that I look at that is, it feels like you’re receiving a gift and it’s too beautiful a gift to ever want to return.” — Sarah Flint

The Benefits of Collaboration:

“We tried different strategies in order to get our brand name out at first. One of them was collaborations with artists where their identity is pretty closely aligned to our brand identity, to come together with these artists and design a pair of sneakers that is very limited and host an event in our store that would accompany the online launch. Typically we get really good press around it and sell out of these pieces very fast. It makes a very memorable PR moment for our brand.” — Chris Wichert

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