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VERE (pronounced Veer) is a new sandal company that is trying to carve a niche in the market by creating sandals made in the U.S. I spoke founder John Eades and asked him about the brand, how they are funded, and why he thinks there is room for another sandal brand in the market.
Vere’s debut collection offers four styles for women, and three styles for men including both leather and EVA options. Price points range from $25 to $50.
Michael Ferreri is also a partner in the business.
I started last June. I was the footwear product director at Reef and the product line manager for the guys before that, and I spent a lot of time with reps and buyers. I asked buyers what the one thing was that no one else was getting for their shops. More and more over the last five years people asked for domestic product.
My hometown is in Geneva, New York and when I got laid off from Reef that spurred our decision to move back to Geneva, which is at the northern tip of Seneca Lake. Back in the 1950s, Geneva was known as a factory town, but has been more of a tourist town since them. They have all of this industrial space that is empty so there were some really good deals.
It’s a mix of private and public money. We have been eligible for city and state loans and grants. We got a grant based on producing jobs. For one of them it was a certain dollar amount per job you create. That one was complicated. The city applies for it, the state administers it, and it’s federal money.
It’s a NY state law and Geneva has a great grant writer and they were aggressive for getting us to stay and produce sandals here. They are trying to get some job growth and industry back there.
My grandpa used to be the mayor of Geneva and he launched the industrial development agency in town and that’s where some of these loans are from. We are taking advantage of the program my grandpa put in place 30 years ago, so it’s come full circle.
The funny story is that the city manager isn’t from the town and didn’t know about the story and my grandpa until after we closed on the loan, so it was pretty cool.
It’s guys and girls, 25 to 40 years old. If prices are their main purchase driver, they’re not our consumer, because we are never going make a $20 sandal. It’s definitely surf and outdoor driven, and someone who appreciates not just the quality, but that it’s made in the USA.
At the end of the day, it is still made of EVA, but we use recycled nylon in our straps and recycled content in our EVA. Our goal is to eliminate as much waste in the production process as possible. We do that by buying EVA cut to size and by shape, and then our EVA supplier recycles scraps and puts that into future materials.
The woven straps are made from recycled nylon. Our leathers are chrome free leathers so we can grind up any waste and give to local farmers who can use it in fertilizer. Our goal is to have no trash in our production process; we’re going to be pretty close.
See Page 2 for more on Vere and the brand's strategy