Extending upon its success of the Sneaker Essentials program, Yellowbrick has again teamed up with the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Center for Continuing and Professional Studies as well as Footwear News to offer Footwear Business Foundations, which is “a comprehensive educational program that takes a deep dive into what makes a footwear company successful and teaches the skills needed to build a brand from the ground up.”
Participants who complete the program will earn a non-credit “Completion Certificate” from FIT. Completion of the Sneaker Essentials program is not a prerequisite requirement for enrolling in the Footwear Business Foundations course.
Footwear Business Foundations “uniquely emphasizes entrepreneurship in the footwear production process as well as career paths,” administrators of the course said. It is designed for anyone interested in the footwear industry who is looking to bolster their experience or for those entrepreneurs looking to strike out on their own by launching a brand.
Daniel M. Gerger, director of FIT’s Center for Continuing and Professional Studies, said that since FIT and Yellowbrick first launched Sneaker Essentials, “the fervor around the footwear industry has only continued to grow. We saw a need for a program that would go deeper into the production and business-building aspects of the industry. Thus, Footwear Business Foundations was born and we couldn’t be happier to be offering this program in partnership with Yellowbrick and Footwear News.”
Program administrators said all the course materials and instruction “will be provided online with video interviews, which allows students to complete lessons at their own pace. FIT faculty, Yellowbrick and Footwear News’ team of experts have developed lessons that feature industry experts and insiders,” they said in a statement.
Contributors to the Footwear Business Foundations program include Michael Atmore, chief brand officer of Fairchild Media Group and editorial director of FN; Sarah Mullins, assistant chair of the Footwear & Accessories Design program at FIT; Matt Priest, president and CEO of the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America; Ulrich Grimm, former EVP of global shoes & accessories at Calvin Klein; Sam Edelman, founder of Sam Edelman Shoes; Dee Ocleppo-Hilfiger, fashion designer and entrepreneur; shoe designer Jessica Rich; Sarah Flint, executive chairman, founder and creative director at Sarah Flint Shoes; and Lisa Cronin-Arida, creative director and shoe designer; among many others.
Atmore noted that FN “has been dedicated to informing our readers about the industry at large and the latest in footwear news for over 75 years. Now, by partnering with Yellowbrick and FIT, we’re able to take our reporting to the next level, leveraging our staff’s extensive knowledge and close industry contacts to educate and inspire learners through this exciting program.”
The course offers over 15 hours of instruction and “project time” that spans five modules. The first module is “Footwear Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship,” and covers the evolution of the footwear industry, various business models, and diversity and inclusion in the industry.
The second module is “Managing Footwear Production,” which focuses on product development, sourcing, costing, manufacturer communications, and industry software. Module 3 is “Branding,” and covers branding principles, frameworks, packaging, and brand applications in the digital age.
Module 4 is “Marketing Strategies,” and it focuses on wholesale distribution, PR and communication, DTC sales, and SEO tactics. The last module is “Retailing and Distribution,” and explores merchandising theory and strategy, store layouts, retail technology, industry events, e-commerce, and data-driven retail.
Administrators of the program said participants will also “complete a comprehensive footwear project for their portfolios.”
By way of context, the program launches as industry analysts project the global footwear market to reach $440 billion by 2026. This year in the U.S., industry sales are pegged to reach $105.8 billion, which represents just over 27% of the total global share.
Administrators of the course said around 24 billion pairs of shoes are produced around the world each year, “and that number is growing. Explosive worldwide demand offers an opportunity for motivated creators to carve out their own niches. Whether aspiring to build their own brand or join existing footwear companies, passionate learners enrolled in the program will explore the industry and consider their own pathways.”
“In creating Footwear Business Foundations, we saw an opportunity to once again work with FIT faculty’s incredible wealth of knowledge and to partner with Footwear News,” said Rob Kingyens, president and CEO of Yellowbrick. “The result is a compelling program that will explore the industry with a focus on business, production and entrepreneurship.”