Building a bridge between company and customer is as critical to a startup business as strengthening this bridge when the business grows and expands. It wouldn’t matter what we made or the number of services we provided if our customers weren't beside us every step of the journey. Colorado is sewn into every SOM, just as a sense of community is ingrained into every connection.
SOM Footwear was recently featured in Wayfinder, a print and digital lifestyle magazine that highlights all aspects of business, food, art, culture, and adventure throughout Colorado's Uncompahgre Valley. The article was written, and its photographs taken, by photographer and SOM enthusiast, Joe Hendricks, and all of the photos in this blog were taken by him.
Joe and his wife, Rhonda, own and operate Elope Telluride, an elopement photography experience that scouts and captures the truest reflection of a couple’s relationship through small, intimate wedding photos surrounded by Colorado majesty.
The job puts Joe on his feet all day, carrying cameras and equipment to locations across the rugged and ever-changing terrain of Colorado’s Western Slope; comfortable shoes are a must. Having read the same book that inspired SOM Footwear, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, he was hooked by the benefits of barefoot running and eventually made the switch completely to minimalist footwear a couple years ago.
Joe had tried other minimalist brands before, but when he learned there was a company that made barefoot shoes in Colorado, he had to check it out. He toured our SOM factory, taking pictures, meeting Olie and Nathalie and the rest of the SOM team, and he was struck by how homey the environment felt. Everyone worked with respect and love for each other and what they were creating. It felt like a family, which reminded Joe of his business.
Connecting from the Inside Out
Like Elope Telluride, SOM believes strong connections with customers must first start within the framework of the company: the workers, the policies, the mission statement. Customers can spot the difference between a business that believes in their product or service versus one that only cares about percentage points on a spreadsheet.
Joe and Rhonda work closely with every couple, building a connection to find the perfect backdrop for their memories, whether that’s a forest in autumn or a snow-speckled mountainside. The photos may be the final product, but the entire process leading up to that point is equally important and equally memorable and can only be reached by establishing a trusting, comfortable working relationship with their customers.
The Sole Difference
During his visit, Joe loved SOM, and when he tried on a pair of Nutrail Air, his feet fell in love as well. “The most comfortable zero drop ever,” is what he told us. They felt like they were a part of his feet. Breathable with great air flow, and their wide toe-box shape blended naturally into the rest of the shoe for a pleasing design. He also liked that our flat and flexible soles were made from one solid mold for improved durability, as other barefoot brands used multiple pieces for their soles which would eventually wear off and break away through use. The fact that SOMs could be resoled for a longer lifespan was the cherry on top.
“Get you SOM!”
This is what Joe likes to say when he’s showing his shoes to others. He runs in them. He takes photos in them. He lives in them. The reason he volunteered to write an article about us and spend his day taking photos of our factory was not because it is a quality product, but because it is a quality Colorado-made product. We pride ourselves on the fact that we are the only sneaker company that cuts, sews, and soles its shoes in Colorado.
Colorado inspired our footwear.
We make our product to strengthen and improve foot health so people can take advantage of the outdoor beauty that surrounds us. And just like Joe and Rhonda’s business, our community motivates us to capture and sew Colorado into every aspect of what we do.
*To learn more about Elope Telluride, see their portfolio, and plan an unforgettable wedding photo adventure, please visit their website: https://elopetelluride.com/
*To learn more about Wayward magazine and read past editions, please visit their website: https://www.wayfindermagazines.com/