Influence is of perspective; at least this is what
founder of shoe brand Inkkas found after one trip
to Peru. In a seemingly static industry; Dan Ben-
Nun was upon the opportunity and hunch that the
traditional Peru shoe would captivate the interest
and trend of the Western United States. Dan, along
with his two foundering partners worked tirelessly
to sources and develops their product that they
could first, meet the quality expectations of the
western world and 2. Made with local materials
and local hands.
Unlike many entrepreneurs, Dan focused on the
price point and audited the world market for
quality vs price. The European market was
comfortable spending more if it equated to higher
quality where as the US cared more for
affordability than quality. Innkas was forced to
find a median price that secreted quality while
maintaining the US standard of affordability.
Through this phase they began testing a basic
model that was assumed to appeal to the mass
market. Inkkas.com was born and orders began to
pile up; especially in the global markets as
bloggers from all over the world were starting to
pay attention to this new growing brand.
I know what your thinking, a shoe company must
be a nice online business with little barriers; but
you would be wrong. Inkkas is a Fair Trade
product; they are a B-Corporation, and focus on
product quality. Also with every shoe sold, Innkas
partnered with Tress of the Future to plant a tree.
Establishing these four pillars of their brand is not
easy and do not come cheap. The struggle was only
beginning and your lesson is as well.
Sourcing manufacturers is a difficult task to begin with
but now Inkkas wanted to source locally with local labor
and materials while being a Fair Trade and increase
quality. Dan went through the struggle; running from
vendor to vendor seeking what he needed but really he
quickly found that he needed to start fresh. Dan recalls his epiphany when he decided to forego the
certifications and build a supplier base from the bottom up. Lesson number one; it may take longer but building the supply chain from bottom up, authenticity of your brand is deeply rooted. Establishing the back end supply was only half the battle; the other half was the Trojan horse internally, management.
Inkkas would go on to find success and connect to great outlets for their distribution lines; externally
they are soaring but internally they are sinking. Inkkas got to a point where the management,
inventory, and development became a tidal wave, putting everything they worked for at risk. Product
development is great; growth is second to none, but only when the brand has the information and
ability to do so. Dan recalls the earlier days when the excitement of new regions, designs, and
products lead their brand. Unfortunately it was lead to over designed and too much too fast. Since
then Dan developed his golden number one rule; no new products until enough sales and
understanding of markets are established. Dan believes this typically will take 3-5 years and is now
focused on the numbers of the business and maintaining as much simplicity as possible to achieve the
desired quality. The lessons Dan learned is build your supply line; bottom up, focus on numbers, and
develop with caution and intent. Take a page from Inkkas book and save your self some struggle.