In-Depth Biz Profile: FANSHOES
A Rochester start-up company is set to hit the world marketplace at next year's Men's World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil. It's a firm that's just four years old and has fewer than a dozen employees.
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On the third floor of Village Gate Square in Rochester, is a small office that's home to FANSHOES. It's a fashion footwear company that Ghana native and Roberts Wesleyan College grad Gabriel Ankamafio-Adjei started with $450.
"FANSHOES is a concept which was developed almost four years ago. The idea was that you see almost every single on the market, tee-shirts, hats for colleges and fan products," said FANSHOES CEO Gabriel Ankamafio-Adjei. "We were looking for something which compliments that kind of stuff, not to compete, but just to compliment that. We ended up coming up with the idea of footwear."
FANSHOES began with a canvas shoe and licensed it with the University at Buffalo. From there it spread to other campuses across the United States. FANSHOES products are now available at 100 colleges and universities.
"The bookstores controlled by either Barnes and Noble or their competitor, we ended up working with both of them pretty much getting into Penn State and other bookstores like that which we've been working with. Since then we've been trying to work with the mom and pop stores as, well which we have a few around the country. And then we ended up going into the mass market with another brand the same as FANSHOES to Walmart which we've been working in about 1,200 stores across the country now," said Ankamafio-Adjei.
FANSHOES also has an agreement with NASCAR and will be selling its products on line and at select race venues this season. However it's big break through is a deal with FIFA and the 2014 Men's World Cup in Brazil.
Ankamafio-Adjei added, "This is a product they've never licensed before in the World Cup. So we were the first people to be able to come in and say 'you know what? FIFA, you can get more royalties through through this kind of a product while you still keep what you already license'. So we're not in competition with the Nikes, the Adidas and the other brands out there."
With a start-up company trying to build a reputation, it's challenging and time consuming to get licensing rights with major organizations. The staff at FANSHOES says working with FIFA was one of the easier sells.
FANSHOES Licensing Coordinator Alex Gudovich said, "They're very quick to respond, very prompt. Going though their contracts actually seemed to take way less time than it did for the NCAA and for NASCAR."
The design staff has room for creativity in these products. However there are certain requirements in its agreement with FIFA.
"We're working mostly with their flags, their jersey colors, their team colors and the logos that we've been given on the FIFA digital archive site. So those products, it's kind of a collaboration of all those products," said FANSHOES Designer Pauline Wegman.
Products are manufactured in China, Thailand and Vietnam. They sell for an average price of $24.99. Eight people work in the Rochester office. That number may increase if negotiations on licensing agreements with Major League Baseball, the NFL and Disney materialize.