When many people think of comfort and recovery footwear the name Oofos often comes to mind. So as part of this Recovery Issue of Running Insight we reached out to Dave Mischler, who this summer was promoted to the chief operating officer — shortened to COO at Oofos, which is a lot of “o’s.” In his new role he is responsible for leading the execution of Oofos’ business plan, overseeing all internal affairs and administrative functions and serving as a conduit for the leadership team. Here are his take on a number of important issues in the recovery space.
The Recovery category is hot, hot, hot at run specialty these days. What do you attribute that to?
Experience. Run specialty provides a unique opportunity for consumers to experience new brands and technology. It’s been such a successful model that many national retailers, and even brands, have copied this experiential approach to trial and service. We offer run specialty a chance to cater to the entire consumer – not just their run – which allows them to service their lifestyle with the best-in-class products, education and experience.
Why is the category a key one for run specialty?
Active Recovery footwear is a strong growth opportunity. Run specialty retailers are sought out and respected for having the distinctive ability to service a consumer’s entire lifestyle. Consumers look to them to recommend new products that can make a difference in their lives. Nurses, teachers, walkers, chefs and more can all benefit from Active Recovery footwear.
What is your message to run specialty retailers on why and how they should carry and merchandise recovery product?
Active Recovery offers a new, incremental footwear category that can generate revenue without cannibalizing current sales — a truly unique opportunity. Because Oofos’ OOfoam technology can help a breadth of people who enter a run specialty store, it can be added to each footwear fitting. This allows consumers to experience the one-of-a-kind feel and how it does the opposite of every pair of shoes in the store — providing the yin to the running store yang. Not only will this provide supplemental sales for the retailer, but it will add value for the consumer.
Oofos has had 82 percent revenue growth in the past year. How was that accomplished?
As a brand, we are seeing tremendous momentum. While we have maintained consistency in our core styles so consumers can always purchase their favorites, we are always looking to innovate and expand the line to fit into more places in people’s lives. The introduction of our OOmg Sport and OOmg Sport LS earlier this year provided increased category growth and new opportunities for closed-toe recovery footwear to be accessible for more occasions and all-day use. Also, consumer awareness of the category has increased. Over the past year we have entered into key partnerships including EXOS, DUPR, the Las Vegas Raiders and the US Ski & Snowboard team and continue to share stories of athletes who authentically use our product to help perform their best. We recently launched two new television spots featuring Derek Carr and will continue to highlight other members of our OOcrew, including former NFL quarterback Alex Smith, Boston goalie Jeremy Swayman, Olympic gold medalist Ashley Caldwell, Boston Ballet Principal Dancer Chyrstyn Fentroy and Emmy-nominated choreographer Chloe Arnold.
On a personal note, you recently completed the Pan-Mass Challenge for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. What did accomplishing that Challenge mean to you personally and how does it align with Oofos’ values?
Oofos has been raising funds for breast cancer research and patient care since 2014, when one of the company’s first employees, Duncan Finigan, was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer. Duncan was a key driver of Oofos’ early success and an important part in establishing the values and culture that are prevalent in the company today. In 2015, we began Project Pink as a way to support her through her four-year battle with the illness and to keep her memory alive following her passing in 2019. Project Pink is focused on giving back to Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund and we are extremely proud to have donated more than $3.4 million since the inception of the program. Duncan’s presence is felt every day at Oofos and motivates us to continue this fight.
And what is the company’s involvement with the Pan-Mass Challenge in particular?
While Oofos has been a long-time supporter of the Pan-Mass Challenge, we entered into a long-term sponsorship of the PMC and PMC Winter Cycle last year. This was my first year completing the ride, but each year more Oofos employees ride for Team Duncan and personally fundraise for Dana-Farber. We were even joined this year by brand partner and former NFL quarterback, Alex Smith.
Why was this important to you personally?
It was important to me to join the team because being part of a mission-driven company like Oofos means having the opportunity to participate, raise awareness and, most importantly, receive donations for such a worthy cause. Being part of such an amazing event with my colleagues was both humbling and inspiring. I will definitely be back next year and look forward to building on both our participation and year-round donations to Dana-Farber, because as our CEO/founder Lou always says, “We are just getting started!”
Finally, what can our run specialty retailers expect from Oofos for the remainder of 2023 and into 2024 and what is it going to take to get there?
We are seeing a shift in how consumers view Active Recovery footwear and integrate it into their lives. As consumers begin to understand the benefits, they are increasingly looking for styles that fit every aspect of their active lifestyle. A consistent comment we hear from consumers is that they own three or four pairs of Oofos and retail analytics back that up. While many people first experience the brand through a sandal or slide – the OOriginal sandal was our first product and is still one of our best sellers – consumers are also now looking for additional options that allow them to experience Active Recovery throughout their day.
How has the brand responded to that?
We have listened closely to consumer feedback to inspire our product line and now offer a collection of Active Recovery styles, including slippers, closed toed footwear, clogs, boots and a wide variety of sandals and slides, that consumers can wear for any occasion. And we will continue to evolve the line based on consumer needs. Also, a major focus for our retail team has been ensuring our retail partners have the right SKUs in the right quantities so they do not miss sales. We have been working together to share resources to optimize their business and provide any insights and data analysis we can to ensure a successful partnership.