Floafer’s Larry Paparo talks business for the foam shoe brand.
The CEO and president of Floafers talks about how the lightweight foam looks have found a following in both casual and dress wear.
01 As a warm-weather collection, how have you created a yearround business?
“In the southern belt of the U.S., [we’re] busy 10 months of the year. Since the globe is warm in most places, we can sell year-round in many locations. While the brand has been embraced for holiday and resort, business spikes in May and June for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Our best two months, however, are July and August.”
02 How has Floafers been able to compete in the foam footwear category?
“Floafers are shaped and feel like a real shoe with swing and toe spring. We also have rubber pods on the bottom making the shoes more long lasting, compared to [others] in the space, with uppers and bottoms made of the same foam material. The pods also stop stress and shock [underfoot] from [being distributed], allowing the foam to bounce back when it hits the rubber. The pods provide traction and support.”
03 Consumers are becoming more eco-conscious. How is the company addressing the issue with its materials?
“In our factories in Vietnam, defects do not get thrown away. That’s the beauty behind EVA. It’s a plastic base so it can be recycled back into the shoes. We’re also putting together a program in 2020 that will allow consumers to send back their old pairs at no cost and we’ll recycle them. This also allows us to reduce and control our production costs."
04 The brand has secured distribution from marine to fashion markets. How do you balance sales in these channels?
“With so many different applications, the shoes can stand in many places. For stores like West Marine, we’re checking technical boxes, with their drainage system and breathability. However, the store loved the rubber pods that offer traction on a boat. We’re also [tapping into] the casual and dress space. I didn’t want to create just another flat, loafer or pump. When I talk to [department] store buyers about where it can fit in their stores, they have three or four options. This is great for us. If there’s no money in one space, they can put it in another.”
05 You have a concise offering of styles. Is there a risk of repetition at retail with stores having similar looks?
“In my career, it has always been the 80/20 rule. For example, look at what Birkenstock is doing with the Arizona, and Sam Edelman with the Felicia flat and the Hazel pump. Adidas has been taking over by the Kanye styles, Converse with the All Stars and Nike with the Jordan. Our hero shoe is the men’s Country Club Driver that allows them to move day into night. Next, we’re spinning the color wheel. We’ve added screen prints such as pineapple, watermelon and florals, while for spring there are unexpected colors such as mango, lime and lemon. Once you expand with colors and prints, the brand is reborn. We found once the consumer buys the first pair, they come back within six to eight months and buy two more.”