Manitobah Mukluks is on the move. The Canadian company selling indigenous footwear is readying to take market share in the United States while staying true to its rich history.
The brand was founded by Sean McCormick, a Métis from Manitoba, in 1997. Since then, it has grown from a single store in Canada to a global business selling in over 50 countries. Now with help from a major financial investment from Endeavour Capital of Seattle, the company is poised to reach its full potential.
To start, Manitobah Mukluks hired industry veteran Greg Tunney this month to take the
helm as CEO. McCormick, meanwhile, will move to the role of chief impact o cer and remain on the board of directors.
“My first order of business is to really expand into the U.S.,” Tunney said. “We’re already in
Canada. We’re already in Northern Scandinavian countries. And we’re going to do it via a premium and luxury strategy.”
For instance, Manitobah selected key retailers to sell its product at full price in America, choosing Dillard’s, Farfetch, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Zappos.com as partners.
Along with Tunney, the brand’s leadership now includes other tenured footwear executives.
Former Ugg president Connie Rishwain is a new board member and industry adviser; Aaron Carpenter, former CMO of The North Face is chief marketing officer; and Kenny Beaulieu, former head of product at Timberland, now serves as chief product officer. In addition to the targeted retail plan, Manitobah will launch an expanded assortment in 2022.
“Next fall, we will introduce more new products than they have the last 10 years
combined,” said Tunney. “You’re going to see a focus on the boot category, a big expansion in moccasins and a continued expansion in slippers. These are premium slippers that are pure luxury. We’re very outdoors-inspired — there’s a big opportunity.”
Manitobah Mukluks will continue to be headquartered in Manitoba, Canada, in Treaty 1 territory, on the ancestral and traditional homeland of Anishinaabe peoples. However, next fall, a U.S. office will launch in Park City, Utah. Tunney noted that the brand’s indigenous
roots play a major role in what sets its apart from others.
“There is no product that we design that isn’t designed with an indigenous artist, and we pay them for their work. So even though we have an internal design team, we use indigenous artists on any new products,” he said.
The company also prides itself on indigenous employment — 50% of all of its employees have to be indigenous. Plus, Manitobah has set the standard for social impact through numerous community programs, such as its Storyboots School, which teaches traditional mukluk and moccasin-making skills.
Said Tunney, “Our sole purpose is to build a global brand that can support indigenous communities and keep their artistry and their creativity alive.”