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Birdies lands $2M for comfy women's slippers

Get ready women -- your feet will long to be slipped into these comfy shoes

Financial trends and news by Anna Vodopyanova
September 16, 2017
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/4a25

There's nothing like a pair of slippers to feel relaxed and cozy at home. But often they don't exactly make the outfit, unless the attire for the day is sweats. Think about it: when you have a lunch or dinner party at your home, and you have a no-shoe rule or you just want to be comfortable, do you want to walk around barefoot or put on heels? I guess those are options. But there's another.  

Birdies, which received $2 million in Seed funding this week, led by Forerunner Ventures, investors behind Jet.com and Dollar Shave Club, to continue the development of the previously nonexistent market that targets a special kind of woman – one who wants to wear stylish footwear not only outdoors, but also at home.

The idea of a fashionable home shoe belongs to Bianca Gates, CEO and co-founder of Birdies. In January 2015, it all began with a text message to Marisa Sharkey, now co-founding President of the new startup.

Introduced to each other by their now-husbands 10 years ago, close friends Marisa and Bianca shared common interests and possessed the same enthusiasm for developing a fun idea into business. For a long time, the two friends could not find stylish, luxurious slippers for the after-work hours. Says Sharkey, “Your only choices were frumpy shoes, ugly slippers, or gym socks.” They discussed this with friends, and learned that the absence of a comfy but elegant home shoe on the market is an issue for many women. So, Gates proposed an idea for a business they would start on their own.

Between January and November of that year, Gates and Sharkey moved mountains to launch their company. Their goal was to mobilize quickly and present the product in time for the holidays and the cold season, when shopping is big and home slippers are especially desirable. Says Sharkey, neither knew anything about the manufacturing process, with Gates’ background in advertising at Facebook and Sharkey’s in strategy at Ross Stores.

“We never thought it would be easy to produce a shoe – somewhere a thousand miles away across the world in China,” says Sharkey, “but that just wasn’t in our background at all, so we didn’t know what to make of it initially, and we learned a tremendous amount.”

Once their biggest challenge of “finding people to work with on the manufacturing side” was overcome, the company gained footing. Sharkey and Gates designed shoes by combining the outdoor class and the indoor comfort. They reinvented the house shoe for the modern woman, created “something beautiful for women to wear and feel great at home,” says Sharkey.

Her prior experience at Ross Stores, where she was Group Vice President of Strategy, and prior to that, seven years as Manager with Bain & Company were instrumental, Sharkey says, in understanding the market and the needs of the customer, while Gates’ experience was likewise a “tremendous help” in building marketing campaigns and communicating with the customer. Together, the friends started the website and created the name for the company – Birdie – giving the brand character and appealing to every woman’s more-than-housewife worth.

BIRDIE is a fun, loving woman, a hard-working attorney and mother of two. She lives in Pacific Heights, San Francisco. When she comes home from the office, she kicks off her shoes, puts on her chic home slippers, and is ready take care of her family, host a dinner in a company of friends, or sit back and relax in comfort.

“Every woman is a Birdies woman,” says Sharkey.

Each pair of shoes in the Birdies collection has a different bird name: the Blackbird, the Wren, the Canary, the Swift, the Night Owl. They are all priced at $140 a pair. The company has an Instagram, where house slippers appear beautiful, placed in stills of various home décor and backgrounds.

The funds Birdies received Sep. 12 will be used in part for the company’s first store location that is to open on Union Street in San Francisco.

The pair sought office space, says Sharkey, and found one complete with a storefront, where they decided to create a homey atmosphere to place shoppers into the comfort of a home, where they can sit, relax, and experience the brand and the lifestyle while they choose the perfect home shoe.

Although the exact date is yet to be announced, at present, the doors of the store are set to open on the first week of October.

(Image source: blogspot)