A Trip to Paru: Inkkas
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.