Jay-Z and Gwen Stefani are just a few of the celebrities that have been wearing Radii Footwear—a new high-end sneaker line. Casey Arisohn, 26, put his passion for retail into starting a very successful business in just a few short months.
YOUNG MONEY: Tell us about your company.
CASEY ARISOHN: Radii (ray-dee-eye) Footwear has been out on the retail floors since February 2009. We’re a brand that is making a statement to say the least, bringing a passion for art and design into the high-end sneaker/footwear business. Our collection is an assortment of high and low top sneakers that cater to the fashion, couture, and street customer.
YM: What gave you the idea to start this business?
CA: A little nudging from friends, and a diminishing economy, definitely jump started my pursuits in the footwear industry. I know a bad economy shouldn’t equal starting up a new business that has expenses bigger than you can imagine, yet from my background in retail we felt there was a section of the market that was heavily under assorted and if done correctly it would be the perfect time to enter the shoe game. Aside from that, I had done exclusive color ways with many footwear brands while I worked in retail. Each time I made the selection, the shoes became number one sellers until sold out. I also created private label sandals and footwear brands for other retailers which introduced me to China and ensured me that I was in the right industry and could make a profit.
YM: Where did you get the funding for your business?
CA: Our business is privately funded; however, in business and in life, I would say 80 percent of it is “who you know, not what you know.” I have lived by that my entire life and have made many great friends and partners over the years from celebrities to athletes, to promoters, to just regular people. When I decided it was time to venture into the footwear industry it was just a few calls and my partner and I were ready to go.
YM: What was the hardest thing you encountered while starting your business?
CA: You know, the hardest thing was underestimating how quickly we would grow and expand. I get so overwhelmed sometimes because we all wear a lot of hats at Radii. We’re slowly but surely hiring more and more employees to help handle the work load.
YM: What surprised you the most?
CA: The success of our shoes the first season was definitely a surprise. In the past, you never would be able to be a brand new company with almost no story and be able to come out and have the incredible sell-through we had the first season and continue to have. I remember being woken up at 8:30am on a Saturday, three days after we had shipped out our first orders. It was one of my accounts calling telling me that he needed to place an order right then because he already sold over 50% off his stock. It was crazy! And the even crazier thing was that it wasn’t a singular case.
YM: What would you do differently?
CA: Nothing that people would see on the surface. Just change things here and there that you learn from experience. With any business, you learn more 10 years down the road than from when you started. I have no regrets but would definitely do some things differently than what we do now.
YM: Is this your first business?
CA: Radii is my first business that I am the owner of, yes. Probably not my last, but this will always be my baby.
YM: How many employees do you have?
CA: We have about 15 employees in house and about 10 outside between public relations, sales force, marketing, and photographers.
YM: How do you get your name out there and get customers?
CA: Honestly, it was hard work and not being afraid to spend money to make money. But again, it comes back to knowing the right people and having the right supporters. Tradeshows are a huge part of our business but they are very expensive too. It also doesn’t hurt when the biggest entertainer out right now, Jay-Z, decides to wear our shoes every night on his tour.
YM: What has been your most effective marketing technique or tactic?
CA: I don’t necessarily believe in marketing techniques or tactics. What I can do, is make great product that people want. From there, it’s just about getting it placed in the right places and being seen in the right stores. I guess you could call our selective distribution a tactic that has helped us grow and be in demand.
YM: What effect has the recession had on your business?
CA: The recession has had an effect on all businesses. Good news for us is that we haven’t been around for ten years so we didn’t feel it as hard as a company that had an overinflated overhead and expenses or were forced to lay off employees, take pay cuts and hang on for dear life. Since the recession we have become overly cautious on who we can or cannot ship. We analyze all of our accounts’ business to ensure they ONLY receive the product that will help them make money. In the past, brands were all about having there retailers represent there “entire” line before they would work with them on discounts or slow sellers. We’re not like that. We tell our accounts not to order certain styles if we feel they won’t work or we cut their orders down to let them test styles so they feel confident before going big. Bottom line, if our retailers don’t make money, they don’t order from us, we don’t sell shoes and we close the doors. Seems like a simple concept, but many brands didn’t operate like that in the past.
YM: If you could offer one piece of concrete advice to other people, what would it be?
CA: Everyone says there are definitive steps when going into business. Honestly, it’s all about who you know, not what you know. And buy Radii!!!
YM: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
CA: We’ve got a lot in store for the future. If you look at how successful our brand is in such a small amount of time, you better believe we’re going to keep surprising everyone for a long time to come.
For more information: http://www.radiifootwear.com