Blog #247 I talked about the FACE golf tournament for charity. In this blog I want to talk about the Shanghai Factories with Rob and Michael.
We met Rob and Michael the next morning in Shanghai, it was an early flight so it was going to be a long day. Our goal was to find some men’s shoes product and expand our wide with boot program. We were doing well with the Fitzwell brand and thought the gel pods would be great for some men’s dress and casual shoes. We also had plans to expand into the work category eventually.
We usually would use existing lasts that the factory could show us without infringing upon someone else’s product in the US. We would usually tweak the upper to make a difference. Men’s shoes did great in wide widths at Zappos so this was our goal. Rob and Michael lined up some great factories for us and we were excited for the product to hit our warehouse. Men’s for Fitzwell was going to be great now with these added styles.
Linda came with me on this trip as Charles and I were going to take some R&R after the trip and explore Beijing. Linda was also trying to source some Light bulbs for her Lamp line she just developed. They were battery operated table lamps that were upscale to fit in nicely in a backyard living space. Stanley helped her make a connection before we came out to Shanghai.
She had also never been to a shoe factory before so this would be a new experience in her vast travels. She had a good time of course and I was glad she could experience my side of the business.
The factory even let her do a few things to get the full experience. One part reminded me of Lucille Ball and the Candy factory. I’m sure the workers were wondering what was going on lol.
This factory also made their own lasts in the facility itself. Most other factories farmed out to a Last factory that specialized in making the lasts. With adding more sizes to our styles there had to be more lasts available as well. So, in a basic medium run, men’s size 7-12, 13 there are 12 different lasts for each size run. If you add W and WW you go from 12 to 36 different lasts. This is why so many department stores don’t carry a wide range of sizes. One, it takes up more space and two,it is more costly to make.
It was nice to have to Shoe pros help us in this endeavor. Michael had an enormous wealth of knowledge in sourcing and dealing with China factories. He knew what we were trying to accomplish and made it happen for us. From adding shoe bags and extra sizes he was a god send. “Retail Rob” as we affectionately called him, knew retail inside and out. He knew what would sell and how to maximize them. I learned this part of the business from him early in my Nordstrom career so it was great having him help us as well.
The second half of this trip would be to firm up our wide calf boot program. We would do that tomorrow. Tonight was going to be an early night as we were all pretty tired.
SIZES... SIZES... SIZES... SIZES...
…just sharing my story and tips from my footwear career.
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