The idea of barefoot running has really taken off, and helping to lead the charge is Xero Shoes, maker of barefoot running sandals. Now they use ShipStation to help manage and ship their orders to happy runners the world over.
- Where They Sell
“ShipStation has made our order fulfillment practically effortless.”Steven Sashen CEO
I’ve heard quite a bit about barefoot running, most of which coming from people reading the “Born to Run” book; how did you learn about and become a proponent for it?
I got back into sprinting when I was 45 (7 years ago), after a 30 year break, and was getting injured constantly. In the Summer of 2009, coming off of yet another pulled, torn, or damaged something-or-other, a friend of mine, who’s a world-champion distance runner, said, “You should try taking off your shoes and running barefoot… oh, and check out this book,” and he handed me a copy of Born To Run.
I knew about the Tarahumara runners that are featured in BTR—a Mexican tribe that runs hundreds of miles either barefoot or in sandals made of tires—but had never thought about emulating them, especially because I’m a sprinter, not a distance runner.
But I took off my shoes, started running, and almost immediately discovered why I was getting injured. The form issues I had were glaringly apparent when I got immediate feedback from my skin touching the ground. And within a short time, I changed those form problems (I stopped doing something that, frankly, hurt when I was barefoot). In other words, finding how to run lightly, easily, and enjoyably with no shoes led to form changes that helped me get rid of my injuries… and develop arches in my life-long flat feet.
I loved the feeling, and fun, and benefits of being barefoot and wanted more of it. And that’s when I started making my version of the Tarahumara huarache sandals. I made some for my wife and a few other barefoot runners… then more people asked for them… and then more… and then we decided to turn our sandal-making hobby into an online business, which we launched in late November, 2009. Not the best time to start a sandal company, I’ll admit, but by February Xero Shoes was our full-time job, and we’ve been on a roll (or a run?) ever since.
So, aside from simply loving Born To Run, because it’s a great read, the ideas in it changed my life. I’ve been running healthily for over 5 years, and our business has been growing healthily for that same time.
What has it been like since going on Shark Tank? Have there been any particular struggles you’ve had to overcome?
Shark Tank was HUGE for us. While we walked away from Kevin’s offer of $400,000 for 50% of our company, the value of being on the show far outweighs the value of that deal. In the first week after the show aired—in the winter, by the way—we sold over 3,000 pairs of sandals. The notoriety we’ve received has been invaluable. And we’ve been approached by other investors who have a good sense of who we are and what we’re doing thanks to seeing us on TV.
The biggest issue we’ve had since being on the show is managing growth. We need to make challenging decisions about how and when to expand our product line, to order inventory, to deal with international sales (especially sales in the Southern hemisphere), and to decide what tools we need vs. what tools we’ll want to get once we can afford them.
How has ShipStation helped you with your business?
Frankly, if it weren’t for ShipStation, we would have never been able to handle the influx of orders from the show, and it continues to be one of our most valuable business assets. It has made our order fulfillment practically effortless, and easy to scale when we have major sales spikes like the ones we get after an appearance on Shark Tank.
What’s your favorite ShipStation feature?
My favorite ShipStation feature is how it handles multiple platforms and channels. We sell Xero Shoes on our own website as well as on Amazon and Rakuten, and we’re expanding into about a dozen other channels in the next 6-12 months. ShipStation makes handling orders from all those channels brain-dead simple, and getting those new channels set up is equally easy.