“By no means is retail dead.”Elie Donahue, Rothy’s
Shoe brand Rothy’s brings together things consumers don’t find everyday — shoes that are comfortable, stylish and made sustainably from recycled plastic. That winning combination has earned the company an avid fan base that’s growing quickly. Vice President of Marketing Elie Donahue says word of mouth has been the biggest driver by far. With such visual products in bright colors and patterns, the brand also translates well on Facebook and Instagram, making social media an important element to the brand’s growth. In this episode, Donahue talks building a following of fans and where the brand is headed.
Rothy’s shoes are most popular in areas with highly dense populations like Washington, D.C., where many women commute and work in corporate environments. The style and comfort combined with the convenience of being machine-washable means wearers can look and feel good while building accomplished careers. The shoes are made out of recycled plastic bottles, but it’s the sustainability aspect that caps the enthusiasm and creates a truly conversational wardrobe piece that customers like to tell their friends and colleagues about. The shoes are made out of recycled plastic bottles, and “that really hooks women in,” Donahue says, “because you’re voting with your wallets, and you want to support brands that match your values.”
Discover how Rothy’s fuels word of mouth from VP of Growth Matt Gehring at NRF NXT, a deep-dive event for digital retail professionals, in Las Vegas, June 22-24.
A few years after being a purely online direct-to-consumer brand, Rothy’s opened a store in downtown San Francisco to give customers the opportunity to touch and feel the products. “It was an experiment to get closer to our customers,” Donahue says, “and it’s been bananas.” Rothy’s uses the 300-square-foot space to test products and event formats, as well as gathers data from store visitors, using the data insights to streamline the multichannel experience. One revelation is that while black shoes are the best-sellers online, customers are more open to trying and buying colors in the store because they can see store associates wearing them. “By no means is retail dead,” Donahue says; The company is planning to open more stores in other metropolitan areas.
Listen to the episode to learn more about the qualities Donahue feels students seeking a career in retail must have, and what’s in Rothy’s future.
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