By Kendall Fisher, executive producer at Grow Wire
Clarks shoes was founded by Quaker brothers James and Cyrus Clark in Street, England in 1825. It’s since grown into one of the longest-lasting, most well-known footwear companies in the world.
In the United Kingdom, specifically, Clarks stores are easy to come by—on popular shopping streets, in malls and even as you’re jetting out of Heathrow airport.
But that didn’t stop Galahad Clark from following his passion in bringing more truth to the shoe industry…even if it meant seeking a different path than those of his family members.
Yes, a sixth-generation descendent of the Clark family dynasty, Galahad set out to change the way we think about shoes by starting his own U.K.-based company, Vivobarefoot.
Vivobarefoot is London's fastest growing natural and minimal shoe company. Its mission to increase awareness around barefoot technology is based on one, simple fact: shoes should allow feet to do what’s natural. Therefore, every Vivobarefoot shoe features a patented, ultra-thin, puncture-resistant sole that protects the foot while allowing maximum sensory feedback.
However, the path to that success was as challenging as running barefoot along a rocky road for the first time.
The idea for the company came to Galahad in 2003 when childhood friend and avid tennis player, Tim Brennan, presented him with the first barefoot shoe concept. Together, they worked to create the perfect technology to enable natural movement while also protecting the foot. By 2009, the company gained traction in perfect conjunction with the barefoot revolution, which officially took off in 2012.
Galahad believed the shoe industry as we knew it was done. He ordered as much stock as possible and instructed his factories to mass produce the Vivobarefoot shoes.
But as quickly as the barefoot concept had spiked, it fell, and it fell hard. Vivobarefoot nearly went bankrupt.
Learning from those mistakes in 2012, Galahad took the opportunity to reimagine the business and strategize for a more successful future.
The Vivobarefoot team realized the world was lacking something very important in order to understand the barefoot concept: education.
The company set out to increase awareness around its barefoot technology by first informing consumers about the issues with shoes as they are produced today and the benefits of strengthening the feet through natural movement.
Galahad enlisted trainers, coaches and athletes, among others, to be ambassadors for Vivobarefoot, spreading the word about the importance of the barefoot movement and kicking off a path to success.
As awareness increased, Vivobarefoot continued to grow. But with that growth, yet again, more challenges arose. The company needed to figure out how to remain authentic to the Vivo brand and mission, while also scaling the business and beating out competitors.
Watch this three-part series for the full Vivobarefoot story and how the company is overcoming current challenges, learning from mistakes and looking forward to a shift in the way people think about their shoes.