It’s rare that a startup story begins on a soccer field in Argentina and because of a pair of shoes (that weren’t even cleats, at that).
Six years ago Aaron Firestein and Raaja Nemani, met volunteering in Argentina and what started as the two of them grabbing a few beers turned into BucketFeet, a global fashion brand spanning 85 countries and supporting over 8,200 independent artists.
Co-founder and Chief Artist, Aaron credits BucketFeet’s success to Raaja and him staying true to their mission – Connecting people through art – which they discovered on that serendipitous trip.
Although their success came faster than most, they only launched the brand three years ago, Aaron and Raaja’s day to day hasn’t been filled with SoHo pop-ups and 30 under 30 recognitions.
In fact, Aaron spent a large portion of his 33founders interview sharing how for the first two years it was just him and Raaja storing shoes in the basement of their house and doing every job required to start the business. Aaron even traveled to 11 cities to visit 85 stores in just three weeks to secure BucketFeet’s first retail partners.
Walking in with a bag of shoes, line books and a one of a kind story, Aaron encourages young fashion entrepreneurs to visit as many small retailers as possible as it’s likely the owner or buyer will be in the store to see your designs.
Just like everything with entrepreneurship, pitching to boutiques is a numbers game and the more retailers you visit the more shops you’ll sign on.
In addition to their own pop-up stores in New York and Chicago, BucketFeet is in hundreds of stores around the world including larger retailers like Nordstrom and select Bloomingdales.
While many startups wouldn’t dream of partnering with household brands in the early days, Aaron’s a strong believer that once you’ve secured the meeting the ball’s in your court, and as a new brand it’s vital you make it crystal clear that carrying your products is worth it.
For Aaron and Raaja BucketFeet isn’t about the shoes. Even their pop-ups are designed for anyone to come in and have an excellent experience. Through interactive walls and artists in residence the team creates an artistic showcase where the shoes are only a small part of the presentation. For the sake of pop-ups it’s people first, product second. Take a second to count how many times you’ve been into an Apple store just to walk around and you’ll realize the movement that Steve created.
As they seek to build a global brand the company’s focused on the same thing that brought them together on that soccer field – connecting people through art – and that’s why I’m confident that they’re team of 16 will soon double and their pop-ups will scan the globe.
To learn more about Aaron and Raaja’s story tune into today’s episode of 33founders where he discusses the serendipitous meeting in Argentina, growing a fashion business, and their goals for the future.