Forsake: A Union alumni shoe venture

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By Charlotte Lehman

Forsake is the brainchild of Sam Barstow ‘11 and Jake Anderson ‘11.  After spending time at ski areas in Utah and Montana during Union’s long winter break, they decided they wanted to design a new type of performance shoe.

“We wanted a new type of shoe with the performance of a hiking style shoe and the look of a skate shoe,” said Barstow.

When they returned to Union, the two developed a business plan for Union’s annual business plan competition.

The competition never took place since Barstow and Anderson were the only ones who entered, but they still decided to move forward with the idea.

Barstow and Anderson contacted Union alumnus Jim Mann ‘86, whom they found through Union’s alumni network from the Becker Career Center.

Mann has extensive experience in the industry, having worked for Nike for more than 15 years.

“He showed us the ropes,” Barstow said.

They connected with a graphic designer, who also happened to be a snowboarder who understood their vision, and completed sketches and designs for the innovative shoes.

Both Barstow and Anderson completed senior projects to help realize their vision.

Anderson, an economics major, worked with economics professor Hal Fried to create a business plan using Forsake as a case study, examining tasks, obstacles and how to overcome potential problems.

Barstow, a mechanical engineering major, completed his senior project on the forces inside the shoe and how designs affected the pressure on the foot; in short, he studied how a shoe fits.

To jumpstart their endeavor, Barstow and Anderson decided to use a crowd funding website called Kickstarter. Individuals pledge money to the project and receive material rewards in return.  Rewards range from “supporter” status in their Fall 2012 lookbook to a personalized pair of Forsake shoes.

“We are using this site to try to raise enough money for our mass production run to actually make the shoes,” said Barstow.

Kickstarter allows the producers of a project to give out material rewards instead of ownership, as is typical practice with investors.

Kickstarter also attracts a lot of attention and web presence. The website has gained momentum amongst Union students on Facebook.

Pre-ordering the waterproof and genuine leather performance shoes on Kickstarter is $75.  Barstow emphasizes that this is a steal, since purchasing the shoes through a retailer would be $130-$140.

The project has a $225,000 goal by May 14, 2012, and currently has 490 backers.

To learn more, visit www.kickstarter.com and search “Forsake.”

More information can be found about the process of creating the shoes and visitors to the website can also watch videos about the product, including one of the shoes in action featuring current Union student Matt Graveley ‘12.

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