As we continue in our commitment to elevate diversity, inclusion and equality conversations, FN is shining a light on Black-owned businesses in honor of Black Business Month. For these next few weeks, we encourage you to get to know these incredible Black-owned companies and support them all year round.
For most footwear companies, shuttering stores as COVID-19 ramped up was a result of difficulties within the business. However, for Fini Shoes, closing its Brooklyn, NY, door was done to ensure long-term health.
“We had a small shop in Brooklyn but we had to close that. Honestly, I don’t think the shop was a good business decision,” Fini Shoes founder Dami Adepoju explained to FN. “The location wasn’t great and people weren’t really traveling out there to come see the shoes. Closing was partly influenced by COVID-19 but mostly influenced by just making smart business decisions. I aim to make better business decisions going forward and strategize better.”
Moving forward, Adepoju said there will be a heightened focus on the brand’s e-commerce platform, Fini.shoes — although he hasn’t completely ruled out opening a new store in the future.
Closing the store, however, isn’t the only major change Fini has had to navigate throughout the coronavirus crisis. For years, the brand’s stylish and versatile footwear has been produced in factories in China, but Adepoju opted to move the operation to Portugal shortly before COVID-19 hit stateside.
Much like shuttering the store, the move to Portugal was also made to ensure success for the long run.
“The brand was going through a transition period before coronavirus happened. Late last year, we removed our factory from China to Portugal because we wanted to offer something different to the market,” Adepoju said. “The Portugal factory allows us to go small, in a boutique way, without the pressure from the factories that are trying to make you order shoes in bulk, in large quantity.”
However, the timing of the move did present some difficulties. Mostly, having limited inventory to sell.
“We didn’t really have a lot of inventory to sell because we were trying to finish up our production line before COVID-19, trying to offer new products,” Adepoju said. “There were a lot of eyes on our web store but we couldn’t really take the best advantage of that because we didn’t have a vast amount of inventory available.”
He continued, “Our factories were closed so we couldn’t really work on products, our production line was closed as well, so it has delayed a lot of our releases. We just worked with the people on our team in Portugal to make sure everyone was healthy.”
Despite the setback, the damage was minimal, and Adepoju is already moving forward.
In the next three months, the brand founder said he expects to reveal new product, and before that compelling marketing campaigns to best tell the Fini Shoes story.
“We want to communicate that Fini is just more than a product, that we are offering more than just a shoe,” Adepoju said. “We offer consumers the option of flexibility and creativity in your footwear, so I’m spending time with my team finding the best way to communicate that across all platforms.”
He continued, “My strategy for the rest of the year is to rebrand and introduce new products to our consumers that are crafted in our new factory. Also, I want to position ourselves to have good relationships with our consumers, the press and also retailers to show how good of a brand we can be.”
Aside from his company, Adepoju — reminiscing on his own struggles to launch Fini Shoes — believes it is more important now than ever to give recognition and to support Black-owned businesses.
“I know how it is to create a footwear company with a lack of resources. I had to go out of my way and put myself in uncomfortable situations,” Adepoju said. “For me, it’s important to celebrate and give voice to people, share their story to keep creating new business owners, creating new jobs, creating opportunities for people who want to follow their dream.”
He continued, “There’s not a lot of people in the footwear who are Black, there’s a handful of people who work in the industry or who own brands. Celebrating these people, in a way, could put others in situations where they can they can get the right resources and then tell their story.”