How an out-of-the-box footwear designer turned his fresh ideas into a six-figure business

Could you tell us a bit about yourself, what you sell at Heyday Footwear and how you got started?

As a footwear designer, I couldn’t find the sneaker style I craved at retail and my designs were being hindered by the corporate footwear brands I’d been designing for day in and day out for over 10 years. In 2008, I set out on my own to do what few other footwear designers had achieved; create my own sneaker brand, on my terms and by myself.

 

Today, Heyday Footwear designs, produces and sells direct to consumer, design-driven performance high top gym sneakers for the freshest in fitness. Our customers are at the pinnacle of bodybuilding and fitness in all its forms or aspire to be. We combine flat soles needed by athletes and outstanding comfort that will enhance your gains with innovative designs and premium materials. We boost our customer's confidence by knowing they have the freshest kicks in the gym.

 

Heyday is only available online via our website. We cut out the middle man (the stores), so we (the brand) can bring our amazing, premium fitness sneakers directly to you (the customer) at an amazing (not premium) price. People want what nobody else has, and with production limited to just a few hundred pairs per style, you're guaranteed to be part an exclusive family. As owner and Chief Everything Officer, I guarantee that our customers receive the most outstanding customer service they've ever experienced.

 

What did it take to get your first products in stock? Has that changed since you started?

The process hasn’t changed much in the past 10 years. I design sneakers by hand and in Photoshop and Illustrator, create tech packs explaining all details to the factory, several weeks and usually multiple samples are needed to get the design and/or materials just right. Production is usually about 6-8 weeks and shipping from Asia to Boston is another 4-5 weeks where they’re delivered to our office and picked and packed to our customers.

How did you get your first sale?

 

We started out pretty simple, knocking on (retailer) doors and showing at trade shows in our first few years and then we transitioned to direct to consumer in 2012 and never looked back.

What obstacles and challenges have you overcome along the way?

 

We’ve probably encountered every obstacle imaginable in our 10 years. Shady retailers who don’t pay their bills, factories who cheat, steal, lie and even attempt to extort us, customs exams, typhoons at sea, no sales, no money, no inventory, too much inventory...we’ve persevered and overcome it all.

What influenced your decision to use Shopify?

I listened to a podcast about a competitor who was on shopify and knew I had to make a switch.

 

What was the process like to get started? Is there anything you wish you had known then that you know now?

It’s so easy to use Shopify, I was able to set up my initial store in just 2 hours after having been on another platform that needed a developer in order to do anything. The Gurus are also the best in the business!

What Shopify apps do you currently use? Which apps are most important to your business?

 

Soooo many apps! Some favorites are Judge.me, Zipify, Recart, Wheelio, Message Mate, Bold Upsell, SaveMySale, Socialphotos, and Shoelace.

What strategies have you used to attract more leads and grow Heyday Footwear?

We do a variety of things across a lot of platforms. We have a fitness writer that does two articles per week for our blog which we use to draw customers back to the site with well written, pertinent articles about bodybuilding, training programs, nutrition and gear.

We’re also running campaigns on Instagram, FB, Google PLA and Amazon.

What are some of the most effective ways that you interact with your customers?

I’m interacting with my customers everywhere, from email, to messenger, phone, FB Live, texts, you name it, we’re there!

Are there any metrics you can share in terms of order volume, monthly sales, increased revenue, growth %, etc.?

 

We went from the mid teens to over $30k per month with mid six figures on track for 2018.

To what do you attribute those positive metrics?

The perfect storm of inventory in the right products at the right time, online ads working efficiently to pull the right customer to the site, the right influencers wearing the shoes and the awesome customer service I provide that is mentioned along with the stellar design in almost 600 customer reviews.

What are you working towards now?

 

World domination and an exit!

Are there any blogs or other resources that have been helpful for you?

 

The Shopify Entrepreneur Group on Facebook, The MFCEO Project/Andy Frisella are both valuable resources for technical shopify knowhow and MFCEO gets you all fired up as an entrepreneur.

 

Based on your own success, what advice would you share with others who might be just starting out with Shopify (or with eCommerce in general)?

 

Think long and hard about what separates your store/brand from among the 600K others on Shopify and elsewhere. If you don’t have the best, most unique product, best price, best site, best service, best ad campaigns or anything else that sets you apart from the competition, you’ll fail.

Where can we learn more?

Check out our website: www.heydayfootwear.com. You can also find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

 

~ Darin Hager, Founder of Heyday Footwear

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