Hands-free footwear company Kizik will launch a line of kids’ shoes and roll out retail stores across the U.S, which will be a first for the direct-to-consumer brand.
The Utah-based footwear company will fund its expansion with a newly announced $20 million series B funding round that closed in April, the company announced on Tuesday. Consumer-focused private equity fund The Newcastle Network led the round.
“After our customers have worn Kizik shoes, the number one question they’ve asked is, when will you make kids’ shoes,” CEO of Kizik Monte Deere told FN in an interview. “So we’ve known there’s demand.”
Deere also noted how having slip-on footwear can be a major time-saver for young kids and parents on-the-go. Toddler shoes will be priced at $69 and grade school sizes will be priced at $79. Adult Kizik shoes currently cost between $99 to $139.
Kizik is the successful footwear brand offspring of HandsFree Labs Inc., its parent company that licenses out hands-free footwear technology solutions. HandsFree Labs secured a strategic minority investment from Nike Inc. in November of 2019, when it entered an intellectual property licensing partnership which allows Nike to use its portfolio of hands-free footwear technology. HandsFree Labs also licenses its technology to Original Footwear, which specializes in footwear for military personnel and law enforcement.
In March of 2021, the company announced that 30-year Nike veteran Skip Lei joined as chief product officer to help execute the footwear business for Kizik and Handsfree Labs.
In addition to kids’ shoes, Kizik plans to launch hands-free high tops and Chelsea boots as well.
Deere declined to comment on specific sales numbers, but said the company is profitable and is currently growing sales at 300% year over year. Kizik expects to ship more than 1 million pairs of shoes this year.
Currently, all of Kizik’s sales occur online, with 95% of sales coming through Kizik.com and 5% through Amazon. The company plans to open its first retail store in Utah and expects to have five stores open in 2023 and between 15 to 20 open by the end of 2024.
“Kiziks are about more than just putting on a shoe,” said Deere. “It’s about the joy or satisfying convenience that you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to untie your shoes, bend over and put them on again. In other words, we solved a fundamental life challenge in a very simple way. And our customers are telling us that it’s magic.”