Vancouver company's waterproof shoe is on fire
We are well into the rainy season and many folks may be hauling out their waterproof hiking boots and rubbers to keep their feet dry. But a Vancouver company has something a bit more fashionable to offer, and it’s proven to be a hot seller.
It’s a waterproof knitted sneaker. Last year, CTV News Vancouver featured Vessi shoes and since that time sales have sky rocketed.
“We honestly never expected this,” said Andy Wang, Vessi co-founder.
Sales took off and this year the company had to halt online sales in order to ramp up production to keep up with demand.
The company says it has added five new facilities in Taiwan making tens of thousands of shoes a month, retailing for $135 a pair.
“People believed in us. They were very supportive and they were also very candid with their feedback especially on Kickstarter,” said Wang.
McLaughlin on Your Side enlisted the help of CTV viewer, Melanee Henderson, to test an early version of the shoe. She wore it for her daily long walks to work in the rain.
“Exactly what Vancouver needs,” said Henderson.
She loved the style and comfort of the shoe but a week after our story aired she says the shoe started to break down with some leaking around the edges.
“So a lot of them wanted more stability, support, also breathability,” said Wang.
The company redesigned the shoe three times and added new material.
“It’s called Dyma-Tex so it’s stretchier,” said Tony Yu, Vessi co-founder.
The material is designed to keep your feet warm in the winter and cool in the summer with micro air pockets.
Other upgrades include more arch support and a new tread to grip better on wet surfaces – complete with an imprint of iconic Vancouver skylines.
It’s a form fitting shoe that feels comfortable and waterproof. We gave Henderson the new version to try out again.
Consumer Reporter Ross McLaughlin also wore a pair for more than a month to see how they’d hold up.
The shoe comes with a 60-day return policy and six month warranty on defects.
Vessi has now opened a new office in Vancouver and now has a team of 20. There are three styles in 15 colours with two new designs about to be released.
Despite their success, the 3 young co-founders, Andy Wang, Mikaella Go and Tony Yu are not taking a salary, opting instead to reinvest back into the company with the hopes of having a million customers within a year.
So far their biggest markets have been Vancouver and New York.
“Just bringing an idea to the market, something that we really needed and we never expected it to be so successful and people to be so supportive,” added Wang.