Last month in Slovenia, CEED hosted Galahad Clark, founder of one of the most innovative companies in the field of footwear industry Vivobarefoot, United Nude, and Terra Plan.
Galahad shared how as a young man he did not plan to follow six generations of the Clark family who worked in the family business. Though Galahad studied Chinese and anthropology, his path eventually brought him back to shoes, but with a twist. Galahad designs shoes that fit the foot and not the other way around. He started his entrepreneurial journey with Terra Plan where he used sustainable materials in shoes, and started developing the barefoot philosophy, which he then renamed Vivobarefoot.
Today, Vivobarefoot is a niche player in the footwear industry. Their striking products have from conception been commitment to sustainable development and continuous innovation. With partners, they have developed their own ecological materials from algae and are pioneers in the use of new technologies such as 3D print and smart shoes with the barefoot philosophy.
Despite having 24 retail stores in Europe, they have recently migrated to a digital sales strategy, which today accounts for more than 80% of revenue. For example, in the United States they sell exclusively online.
Galahad shared that the transition to digital was not easy. They took a few steps back before they moved forward, as seen in a revenue drop during the transition. He shared that transitions should not be feared, which he often sees with other entrepreneurs. When building a business, you need to look at the long-term impact. As an entrepreneur you go through failure to failure. The most important thing when you wake up in the morning is to be enthusiastic about what you work and believe in. He advises that companies need to embrace the change the digital world brings and implement it strategically.
Today, Vivobarefoot is agile and lean, using modern technologies both in production and in sales channels. They are participating in chemical scientific discoveries for the development of new sustainable materials, and with their partner company Sensoria, they are developing the first smart shoe with barefoot philosophy. They have embedded a technology in the soles of the shoe that tracks walking, and through a mobile application advises on healthier movement.
As a pioneer in using new tech, Galahad is proud to announce that in they will make the first 3D printed shoes this year. He believes that uniqueness and personalization will, through 3D printing, lead the footwear industry. Though when it comes to the future, Galahad shared that he knows less and less what the future is going to bring. Naivety is important, it’s part of the entrepreneur experience.