The Accelerators: The leaders fueling established companies’ catapulted growth
Founder, executive chairman and creative director, Sarah Flint
Since launching her namesake footwear brand in 2013, Sarah Flint has made significant strides in setting the company apart from luxury footwear competitors. That includes by prioritizing comfort and direct-to-consumer pricing. Flint shifted the brand from a wholesale-focused distribution model to 100% DTC in 2017. In the same year, the brand’s annual sales grew 200%.
Now, Flint is stepping on the gas. In July, she opened the brand’s first brick-and-mortar store in Nashville and another in Dallas. A third store location, in Atlanta, is set to open its doors ahead of Black Friday. She also recently expanded the brand to categories beyond footwear, including scarves, belts and home accessories. And she hired a CEO: Annie Thorp joined the company from MM. Lafleur, where she held the CMO position, in January. In December, the brand will launch a customer-to-customer resale marketplace, Sequel by Sarah Flint.
Why did you make the switch to DTC in 2017?
“At the time, I felt I was spending so much time trying to please the buyers that I sort of lost touch with who my end consumer was and what they wanted. I felt that their opinions were different [than the buyers’]. At the same time, it was the golden age of the DTC brand. You were seeing all of these big-growth stories with DTC brands, and I felt like, ‘Well, we can do that; let’s take control of [Sarah Flint’s] destiny.’ … It’s not to say we won’t go back to wholesale at some point, in a new economic way that makes sense for us — if we expand to Europe, [retail partners] would make a lot of sense for us.”
How has the company grown in the last year?
“We’ve continued to see growth [year-over-year], and the thing I’m proudest of is our customer loyalty. Within this year, 40% of our customers have repurchased [additional products], which is pretty amazing. To me, that’s the biggest indicator of success. Building a strong, long-lasting luxury business is [primarily about] creating strong relationships with your top customers.”
Why did you and your team decide to launch resale?
“The amazing thing about our shoes, and these types of luxury products, in general, is that they really are built to last. … There’s been so much conversation about circular fashion, so this seemed like a no-brainer opportunity. I’m very heartened and excited by the [customers’] early response, and I love that we’re giving these shoes a chance for a second life.”
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