It Is Still Uncommon For A Young Woman To Be The Ceo Of A Third
Confidence is a very important part of it, but having the support of my family was essential. I credit my husband for saying, Yes, go for it, fulfil your potential. Something as simple as that can make all the difference. Gender doesnt really play a role in my family, but when I look at my interactions with others, I sometimes find a hint of surprise that a young woman is taking on such a challenge and responsibility. Instead of being put off by that reaction, I try to use it as a start to a positive conversation.
Discover The Okabashi Difference
Weve been focused on sustainability for decades, from our closed loop manufacturing process to our recycling program. This is a big factor in how we kept our factory open when 99% of shoes worn in the US are imported. Sustainability and our circular model is the key. Waste is not only bad for the environment;it is bad for a business.
Used shoes and scrap material are ground up to be recycled.
Our bio-based material is combined with recycled material to create new shoes.
;Okabashi shoes contain 25% recycled material on average.
Okabashi Shoes Are The Ultimate Gym Essential
Okabashis American-made shoes are ideal for post-workout recovery and are slip-resistant, machine-washable, and more.
Fitness fanatics, gym-goers, and athletes wear the most comfortable shoe possible while working out; however, the post-workout shoe is just as important. It is necessary for the feet to recover after strenuous activity and hours spent standing. Thus, a recovery shoe is important as it allows your feet to breathe, your toes to relax and spread out as needed, and supplies extra cushioning for needed arch support and heel cradling. Since 1984, Georgia-based footwear company, Okabashi, has been manufacturing the ultimate recovery shoe. With a focus on what footwear was originally meant to be true protection and support for your feet Okabashi sandals and flip flops are just what the foot needs to recover. This, combined with the slip-resistant and machine-washable nature of the shoe, has made Okabashi a beloved choice in locker rooms, pro shops, spas, and more.
Private label and wholesale inquiries can be directed to Lauren Lazarnick
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Okabashi Made In Usa Sandals
October 10, 2010 by snugglybear
I recently ran across Okabashi sandals for being a made in USA sandal.; I remember that Crocs were originally made in USA then quickly got converted to made in China, once they became popular.; Its not as if Crocs went down in price when that happened, though.; Theyre actually more expensive than Okabashis.; Anyway, I was excited to try out these sandals as they seemed very comfortable, stylish and emphasized their recycling and waste-minimization programs.
I was not disappointed.; I tried out the Okabashi Eurosport model.; I loved the soft squishy feel, but at the same time they gave great support and had small massaging nubs on the insole.; Theyre very comfortable.; Ive worn them in the back yard and around town.; And theyre only $15!!! Thats way less than Crocs.
Heres a pic:
Here is a photo of a womens sandal that I saw on their website:
Sustainable In More Ways Than One
The opportunity to focus more squarely on its sustainable practices led, in part, to Irvani launching its Third Oak brand in 2018. Third Oak rounds out its brand offering by creating a line that showcases its commitment to environmental stewardship for a customer base that prefers to spend with socially responsible companies.
But sustainability is not a new development for Okabashi. Its the way the company has always operated. And its sustainability efforts arent just about doing right by the environment. Its also about creating a sustainable business model. Recycling and repurposing make sense economically.
Thats because we are a value driven business, Irvani said. We made this commitment when it was nearly impossible to make products in United States because our competitors, who had moved production overseas, had a much lower cost, Irvani said.
Finding ways to continue to manufacture domestically has meant keeping a close eye on customer feedback. Irvani spends four days a week in the factory with her 100+ employees. Her desk is next to the customer service area, so she can stay tuned in to what her customers are saying. Her focus on both retail and consumer feedback is paying off.
Only 1% of shoes are made in U.S., she said. So, few companies have managed to survive, let alone thrive. You need to think extra smart and work extra hard. It allows us to do what many think is impossible.
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Sustainable Fashion Brands I Love
By: Author Kimberly Button
Over time Ive realized that spending my money with companies that are doing good in the world is more satisfying than buying from companies that seemingly dont care. Id rather spend a little bit more and know that Im helping the environment and/or positively impacting workers lives.
These are the sustainable fashion brands that I love and support. Ive tried out their products to review and continue to keep them in my closet today. Happily, many of these items have lasted years and Im still wearing them.
Ive also included ethical fashion brands, too. Most of the time sustainable fashion and ethical fashion are one and the same.
Sustainable fashion is using materials that wont harm the environment. Ethical fashion is when a brand treats their employees and suppliers with care, offering fair wages and a healthy work environment. You will find that sustainable fashion and ethical fashion often, but not always, go hand in hand.
When Did The Shift To Foreign Manufacturing Begin In The Industry
It began in the 90s. Our competitors started getting less expensive, and our prices were higher because our materials were still being made in the USA. At that time, many companies made the obvious choice of joining the crowd and moved their production to more cost-effective countries. But quality was too important to us.
If youre manufacturing in a country that requires a full day spent on an aeroplane to get to, is located in an alternate time zone and speaks a different language, you can never have a full grasp on what goes into the materials and how the employees are treated. We wanted to be able to oversee everything that was going on under the companys name. So, the commitment was made to keep manufacturing in the USA.
It was a decision based on values, which I believe is something family businesses excel at. We continued that way of thinking when we looked at how to make our manufacturing process more sustainable in the 90s. Then, about two years ago, when my father was looking to wind down his involvement in the shoe company, I took on the challenge to promote sustainable local production. So far, were making exciting progress with it.
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The Other 1%: One Of Americas Last Shoemakers Charts A Growth Path
Sara Irvani, Okabashi’s CEO.
Image courtesy Okabashi Brands, Inc.
In 1984, Bahman Irvani founded Okabashi Brands, Inc., in Buford, Georgia, a small town just northeast of Atlanta, to create a sandal to promote foot health and wellness. Little did he know that by the end of the 1990s over 99% of shoes worn in America would be made overseas.
But Okabashi is still right there in Buford. In addition to their namesake brand, they also sell under the Oka-b and Third Oak labels, to customers that include Lands End, J. Crew, Target and Walgreens. Since their founding the company has sold over 40 million pairs of shoes. Their 100,000 square foot plant can make thousands of pairs of shoes a day, and employs about 150 people.
Sara Irvani, Bahmans daughter, took over as CEO in 2017. Her focus has been on staying true to the values that have brought Okabashi success over the years, while adding focus areas to engage a new generation of consumers. Were proud to be one of the remaining 1% of U.S. footwear manufacturers, she said. Covid has not been an easy time, but neither was the offshoring of the 1990s. If we stick to our values, we can surmount any obstacle.
The Venice women’s tan sandal.
Image courtesy Okabashi Brands, Inc.
A Revolution And A Rebirth
In Iran, the Irvanis were footwear royalty. Mohamad Irvani founded the Melli Shoe Company in 1958 and grew it into one of the largest shoe manufacturers in the Middle East, employing 10,000 people and churning out everything from work boots to sneakers to kids’ shoes. His son, Bahman, helped out there until age 13, when he moved to England for boarding school. After studying economics at Cambridge and working in London as a CPA, Bahman returned to Iran to join the family business full time. It was 1977.
In February 1979, the monarchy fell and the new theocratic government nationalized Melli. The Irvanis fled to England. “We lost 99 percent;of what we had,” Bahman;says. “We cried for about a year and then decided either we spend the rest of our lives looking back or looking forward. We decided let’s move forward.”
Attracted by the Reagan era’s pro-business climate, the Irvanis chose to start again in the United States. They targeted the Atlanta region for its international airport. With bank loans and the last of the family’s capital, Bahman acquired land in Buford and set up a factory, borrowing technology and processes from German, Italian, and Japanese companies that had once partnered with Melli. “This was exactly when the dollar was getting stronger and the shoe business was moving to China,” he says.;”Our timing was terrible.”
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With Such An Interesting Business Model What Have You Got In Mind For The Future Of Okabashi
Our goal is to consistently grow the team and direct social impact. We have already sold over 35 million pairs of shoes. I believe we can change peoples perception of products that are responsibly made in the USA. Ill consider myself successful if we are able to do that and if I am able to provide meaningful opportunities for my team and around my factory.
Okabashi has always been a family business, and its hard to imagine it as anything different. I grew up in and around the factory, and I would like to offer that opportunity to my future children as well. We have recently launched a brand called Third Oak a reference to the third generation of shoemakers and it would be amazing to have a Fourth Oak brand one day.
Did You Steer Your Education Toward Business
I went to a school in England from ages 13 to 18. Then I took undergraduate studies at the University of Virginia, studying philosophy and contemporary ethics with a focus on the philosophy of language, specifically on how we understand metaphors. While I knew I wanted to go into business, I think that its also important to stretch your mind and learn how to think creatively. Philosophy was not only very interesting but also extremely useful in ways that Im only now appreciating.
After that, I went into strategy consulting in Zurich and New York, focusing on innovation and private equity. I remember being on a case where our clients sponsor wanted us to change some assumptions in our model to get a specific result. I was shocked. Having studied ethics and philosophy, I was aware that it was not right to change your assumptions based on what you want the results to be.
Ive seen what happens when you run a company without a strong set of values; it impacts morale at the very least. Business needs to have a soul, values and a purpose.
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Us Soy Shoes Donated To Frontline Workers
“U.S. Soy is helping bring comfort to health care professionals who are working tirelessly on the frontlines during COVID-19.;Okabashi, an American company that counts on U.S. soy for all its sandals, pledged to donate up to 10,000 pairs of soy-based sandals to health care workers for every order placed through its website or Zappos.”
– Jun 16, 2020
“Contoured flip-flops like the Okabashi Women’s Splash Sustainable Wedge Flip Flop Sandals.”
AARP.org – Feb 27, 2020
“If you have been wearing cheap drug store flip-flops and are looking for more support or more cushioning, we have found the best footwear of the summer that will change your life for the better.;”
ComfortNerd.com;- Feb 27, 2020
“;Iranian heritage, Japanese design, and a made-in-America commitment powered three decades of growth. Now Okabashi is letting its green flag fly..”
Trip Savvy – Aug 27, 2018
“Companies should also make sure the ‘details of sustainability matches your brand story.'”
Footwear News – Aug 13, 2018
“The have a post consumer recycling program, meaning customers can send their worn shoes back to the factory. This make their manufacturing process virtually waste-free.”
Goodful Facebook page – July 22, 2018
“Trend alert: Okabashis olive green Copenhagen Clogs are waterproof and made of 15 to 25 percent recycled material in Buford, Georgia”
Gardenista – July 2, 2018
HGTV.com – May 03, 2018
“Comfortable, with a massaging insole, and stylish too, these partially recycled shoes are great…”
What Was Your Perception Of The Family Business As You Were Growing Up
I grew up with three brothers. There was always a lot of energy in the house, and we used to talk about the family business at the dining table. Its what we all live and breathe. As a little girl, I would shadow my father and tinker about in the factory. I thought I was helping him, but I was probably just distracting him and disrupting things.
Even so, I do remember my father asking our opinions on matters he was grappling with in those early days. We were exposed to the mechanics of running the business from a very young age. I always knew that I wanted to follow into business.
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What Is Your Vision And What Are The Shifts Youve Made So Far In Your Familys Business
First of all, we examined our values and asked ourselves what being made in the USA really meant. For us, and as for many manufacturing companies, Made in the USA has been an emotional pull. We feel that it implies better quality but also a positive impact on peoples lives.
We thought deeper about how an ethical company could function and benefit from local manufacturing. Made in the USA means a much lower carbon footprint and adhering to the principles of circular economy, where we can have shoes shipped back to us and follow their entire product lifecycle. You cant do that when youre shipping all the way across the ocean and your products end up in a landfill someplace.
A lot of people think that made in the USA means expensive, and sustainable is often associated with unattractive. For us, its about making sustainability and wellness accessible through the design of our shoes at an affordable price point that is our vision. We want people to naturally think of Okabashi when it comes to sustainable local footwear options.
Looking Toward The Future
Irvani has always considered Okabashi a family business. Now 65, he has turned companys day-to-day operations over to his daughter, Sara. At the age of 28, she has already earned a degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia, a Masters of Finance degree from Cambridge in the U.K. and an MBA from INSEAD where she studied in Paris, Abu Dhabi and with an exchange program at the Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia.
The company has been successful for over 30 years and I feel a big responsibility to the team. When people think of super comfortable, Made in America and eco-friendly shoes they think of Okabashi, said Sara Irvani. There is no one else that plays in this category and there is no one else that thinks this category can exist.
Injection molding machines comparable to the models used today have been around since the early 1950s, but Okabashi designers have expanded their diversity to create a comfortable shoe at a comfortable price.
The injection molding process is kind of like making Jell-O in a Jell-O mold, said Webb. The material is blended with colorant, goes through an extruder on the molding machine and melts on its way into the mold which is, of course, the shape of a shoe. The mold stays closed from anywhere from 45 seconds to minute and a half depending on the style were shooting. When the mold opens, youve got a shoe.
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At Okabashi Brands Sustainability Has Double Meaning
The Buford, Georgia-based shoe maker drives sales and profitability by blending style and responsible manufacturing practices.
With each of its products, Okabashi places emphasis on sustainability, comfort and manufacturing within the United States.
Sara Irvani is always looking for a good fit. And not just when it comes to the 1.2 million flip flops and sandals her Buford, Ga.-based company manufactures every year. Irvani, CEO of Okabashi Brands, believes finding a good fit is essential to broadening the shoe manufacturers retail reach.
Its important to have the right brand for each retailer, Irvani told CO. You have to have a cohesive strategy for your company and the retailer. And that means knowing your customer.
That approach has served Okabashi well. The companys shoes are now sold in more than 5,000 retail locations, including Target, Macys, Bloomingdales, J. Crew, CVS and Walgreens. The company, which was founded by Irvanis father in 1984, has three distinct shoe brands each of which is targeted to a different customer base.
Its Okabashi brand shoe retails primarily at drug stores and some specialty shops. Its Oka-B is a higher-end line for boutiques and spas, and its newly launched Third Oak is targets style and environmentally conscious millennials through retailers.
You have to have a cohesive strategy for your company and the retailer. And that means knowing your customer.