SNEWS Qs, Manufacturer Edition, Sharon Blumberg, Chooze

SNEWS chats with children’s footwear company Chooze Founder Sharon Blumberg.
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Sharon Blumberg

Founder, Chooze

How has Chooze grown since its founding?

Chooze has experienced tremendous growth since our launch last September, proving once again that consumers care deeply about companies that make great products AND are clear on their reason for being. Chooze exists to empower and elevate individuals to their fullest potential. We do this by providing products that inspire creativity, confidence and the power to have a positive impact. We launched with just a few specialty store buyers who loved the brand’s purpose and have grown to over 500 retailers in our first year.

What is the benefit for specialty outdoor retailers to carry products that cater to children?

It is no surprise that kids are spending more time indoors than ever and it is our responsibility to find ways to engage them in outdoor play. We believe that play is key to any child’s development, which is why we designed Chooze to be play shoes. Parents who shop the outdoor market are typically creative, out-of-the-box thinkers who search for unique products that will inspire kids. Kids always relate to products that are fun and colorful, especially products that allow them freedom of self-expression. With a new group of kids always emerging, there is so much opportunity for retailers to engage with the kids market.

How has REI’s decision to introduce Chooze nationwide posed a challenge to the company?

Being nationwide in REI is a huge opportunity for the brand to impact more lives through creativity and empowerment. Our mission is to use our profits to provide loans that enable women to permanently lift themselves out of poverty. The more reach we gain, the more families we can impact worldwide.

We have partnered with proven operational partnerships to ensure we scale smoothly. We expect to bring on other national retailers and International distributors over the next year.

Why do you think Chooze has had good sell-through in a variety of markets, and not just in the outdoor space? Chooze is different. Literally. Kids of all ages are always looking for something that makes them feel unique and confident. We feel grateful for the response we have had to date and are eager to see our expanded product line succeed across many markets.

Tell us about your participation and investment in charitable programs?

As a Good Returns company, every dollar of profit earned goes first to a microfinance institution that provides loans, training, support and education to women in poverty. After those profits have spent a year in service, the money is returned. It's like the Peace Corps for money: We volunteer every dollar for a year of service. It is a sustainable way to have a positive impact by providing a hand-up rather than a hand-out.

Why is that important to you?

As a mom of three, I appreciate that my children have opportunities. But there are millions of children in the world living in extreme poverty with no choice. I believe every child deserves the opportunity and encouragement to reach their potential. I designed Chooze to do that directly through the product and through its profits.

Tell us what’s different about your Spring '13 line?

While our initial collections were fun and colorful, the new Spring '13 line bursts with exciting prints on several new styles. We are excited to introduce new sandals, sneakers, ballet flats and wedges. The collection also features rubber ornament details in coordinating but mismatched designs. Sometimes the difference in our designs is very subtle and sometimes it is bold — either way, there is something for everyone

--Compiled by Ana Trujillo

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