On Thursday, Jan. 21, Jake Anderson and Sam Barstow gave a talk to a packed house on their shoe company, Foresake Footwear. Anderson and Barstow both graduated from Union in 2011. While still in college, the two went west during breaks to work at ski lodges. Both quickly learned there was a need for a durable outdoor boot that also acted as a stylish casual sneaker.
When the two returned from their trip, they went to work on finding an answer to the shoe question above. That is when they came up with what they call, a “sneaker-boot.”
Anderson described the two wanted something stylish yet functional.
During the talk, Barstow shared how they have received a lot of encouragement and support from peers, faculty, and staff. They contacted a Union alumnus who worked for Nike and received guidance from him on how to navigate the world of shoe sales. The alumnus got Anderson and Barstow in touch with a shoe manufacture in China. The company ended up being one of the largest shoe producers in the world.
Barstow and Anderson got the sense, very quickly, that the representatives for the company did not take them seriously due to their age and inexperience. This “intimidating” meeting led to Anderson and Barstow getting a physical prototype of their first sneaker.
Barstow said, “It is easy to copy with a prototype, so the challenge became finding a smaller factory and buyers.”
They then went around to stores to promote their shoes but learned early on that they had missed the buying season for stores. With no buyers, but a product in hand, the two turned to the website Kickstarter. The site allows entrepreneurs to pitch their products and get outside funding.
In the fall of 2012, Barstow and Anderson released their “elevator” pitch on the site. Their pitch was extremely unique. Barstow jumped out of a plane while pitching the product to potential buyers. In 40 days, they raised over $116,000. They now had buyers and Barstow said it was time to “create a business.” They were very happy to have over 1,000 people ordering shoes, but still wanted their product in stores.
In 2013, Barstow and Anderson took a road trip from Boston to Utah to attend the Outdoors Retailers Show. While there, they secured 18 retailers to sell their shoes.
At around this time, the two received a huge outside investment to help finance the costs of the sneakers. With the investment in hand, the two put in for one bulk order of shoes from a small company in China.
What they shared as a key to success was going around to individual stores and taught salesmen in each store about what makes their shoe to unique. They believe their dedication and perseverance allowed them to become a very successful company.
As of today, their shoes are located in over 150 stores and plan on releasing a women’s line this upcoming spring season.
Along with the new shoe line, Foresake added new styles that appeal to a wider group of buyers. As more people buy, rave and support Foresake, Anderson and Barstow are becoming a name to know in footwear.