SHARON BLUMBERG

The Chooze founder opens up about the la­bel’s next chap­ter un­der new owner Syn­claire Brands.

Footwear News - - JOIN THE PACK - By Erin E. Clack

1 What led you to sell your com­pany last month?

“I had been watch­ing Syn­claire from afar for years, and when I met Evan [Cag­ner, pres­i­dent and CEO], we started a con­ver­sa­tion about how a part­ner­ship could help take Chooze to the next level, and it evolved from there. We had been run­ning Chooze for seven years with a very small team, and I’m proud of what we ac­com­plished. But we reached a point where we re­al­ized that we need more to con­tinue to grow. Syn­claire is a per­fect fit — their ex­per­tise, pro­fes­sion­al­ism and ded­i­ca­tion are im­pres­sive. They are so con­nected to the changes go­ing on at re­tail, and Evan has a great vi­sion for the fu­ture and how to tackle the big chal­lenges fac­ing our in­dus­try to­day.”

2 What new op­por­tu­ni­ties will Syn­claire open up for Chooze?

“Syn­claire has ex­ten­sive dis­tri­bu­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties, so that is go­ing to al­low us to hit some dif­fer­ent price points and chan­nels, as well as ex­plore in­ter­na­tional ex­pan­sion. I’m also ex­cited about Syn­claire’s di­rect-to-con­sumer busi­ness, Kidsshoes.com.

On­line is our big­gest point of dis­tri­bu­tion, so this will be a great ad­di­tion to our mix. Syn­claire also has ex­cel­lent cus­tomer ser­vice and so­cial me­dia teams, which will help sup­port what we’ve been do­ing on those fronts.”

3 What will be your role?

“I will serve as creative di­rec­tor, over­see­ing the brand’s vi­sion and de­sign di­rec­tion, which is what I love to do most. I’m al­ready ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the ad­van­tages of be­ing freed up from the many busi­ness oper­a­tions as­so­ci­ated with run­ning a brand. I’ve seen my cre­ativ­ity heighten. I have some ex­cit­ing prod­uct ideas to un­veil soon that will al­low kids to ex­press their in­di­vid­u­al­ity at a whole new level.”

4 In to­day’s busi­ness cli­mate, is it more dif­fi­cult for smaller, in­de­pen­dent brands to sur­vive?

“It’s in­cred­i­bly tough. If we were at­tempt­ing to launch Chooze now, we’d never be able to do it — for many rea­sons. Ad­ver­tis­ing and so­cial me­dia have changed dra­mat­i­cally with the new al­go­rithms, mak­ing it much more chal­leng­ing and cost­pro­hibitive to get started and get your mes­sage out. There are ma­jor new chal­lenges on the pro­duc­tion and sourc­ing end. Con­sumer be­hav­ior has changed dras­ti­cally. And ob­vi­ously, the spe­cialty store chan­nel has seen tremen­dous up­heaval.”

5 Chooze’s unique mis­matched con­cept has been a key fac­tor in its suc­cess. How can you keep the brand fresh?

“When we started, we were one of the only brands fo­cused on mis­matched styles. Now many brands are dab­bling in the aes­thetic, and it’s not so dif­fer­ent any­more. We al­ways want to be ahead of trends, so we’re work­ing on ideas for other prod­ucts that will be unique to the mar­ket. That’s my goal: to al­ways be of­fer­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent. The whole con­cept of Chooze is to in­spire kids with cre­ativ­ity.”

Chooze pat­terned leg­gings

A pair of its mis­matched shoes

05/ Five Ques­tions

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