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Rothy’s Marketing for the Luxury Start Up

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During the Great Recession of 2009-10 thousands of small businesses fell behind in payments and cash flow issues were hard to correct.

After four years of product research and several more years of spreading the word, @Rothys has perfected the modern woman’s flat. Seamlessly knit with a 3D printer using recycled water bottles, this shoe company produces minimal manufacturing waste and has diverted over 10,000,000 plastic bottles from entering landfills. The Rothy’s recycled (and recyclable) shoe was designed to have the polish of a feminine flat with the comfort of a sneaker, and be perfect for work, errands, travel or really anywhere.


“Our mission was to create the most stylish, comfortable shoe for today’s on-the-go woman. And do it with low-waste, low-impact materials, hand-assembled for high quality and durability. Hence Rothy’s was born.”

Rothy’s Brand

Even though the brand launched their first shoes in 2016, Stephen (“Hawthy”) Hawthornthwaite and Roth Martin began the development phase several years prior. Their research to create a shoe that is stylish, comfortable, sustainable, and versatile was not a quick process. What they came out of those years with was a shoe that they describe as attainable luxury, not a high priced untouchable fashion.

Retail price starts at $125 for the round flat, $145 pointed flat, and $165 loafer. What’s the deal with those prices? Using recycled materials is more expensive than virgin materials because of the costs of gathering, sterilizing, and transforming them into something new. “That’s what led us to knitting,” Martin said. “You only use as much material as you need.” The 3D knitting machine uses the plastic yet breathable and moisture-wicking fibers to create shoes that are the right fit, color, and pattern for whatever style the team is working on that day. Changing the style is as easy as updating software.

Once “Hawthy” and Roth finalized the design and construction, they had to face the next big challenge: Getting people to buy their new product, and a pricey one at that. They first relied on word-of-mouth and pop-up shops. Then, they kicked up their marketing with an aggressive social media approach in 2017, using an Instagram featuring both UGC and professional photoshoots, pixels and tracking to target customers with paid social media ads, and brand hashtags #LiveSeamlessly and #RothysInTheWild to encourage users to post about their shoes, generating organic (and free) brand awareness. It wasn’t until March of 2018 that Rothy’s opened up a brick-and-mortar store in San Francisco, and even then, the company still struggles to meet the demand for their shoes. Although that’s not a bad problem to have if you ask most business owners…

Rothy’s marketing efforts has raised $7 million in venture funding to date, which will allow it to grow its team of about 20 employees in the US and make future innovations in manufacturing. They like the simplicity of three shapes and handful of designs, but are looking into potentially creating a men’s line.

What are your thoughts on products that are expensive, but environmentally-conscious?