- The Plus Awards
We live in an Insta world these days. Life gets summed up in tweets, posts, pics, (fleeting) Snapchat stories and texts littered with acronyms and emojis. The written word has taken a beating in this ever-accelerating rush to communicate, which is often led by visuals. Admittedly, less can be more. Brevity can be the soul of wit. But might we be missing out by cutting to the chase—and the video—all the time?
Granted, I’m a bit of an old soul. I like old music, movies and books. Heck, I like actual books—the feel and smell of the paper—and I prefer not to fret about whether the device needs to be charged before I can read. And I often find people’s backgrounds as interesting as the reasons they make headlines. I regularly find myself scrolling through Wikipedia and IMDb, the internet movie database, reading about the actors in the movies I’m watching. I want to know where they came from and how they got their big break. The site’s “Did You Know?” section might be labeled trivia, but to a journalist like me it’s a key to a person’s past and their personality. Such asides and anecdotes provide the extra detail, color and substance that enrich the story and show you why it deserves to be told.
For example, I loved discovering a little-known aside about Rob Moehring: When he took struggling Washington Shoe Company over from his father and uncle back in the late ’80s, he had no choice but to set up shop in a mini-storage warehouse in Seattle. It was located above a methadone clinic and it shared hallways with homeless people who could get in from the rain and cold for $5 a night. The facility also housed another little-known startup at the time:
Pearl Jam! The band was on the fourth floor rehearsing regularly. Those are just some of the background nuggets revealed in Moehring’s thoughtful and engaging “A Note to My Younger Self” (p. 20). You won’t find them anywhere else.
I also loved learning about the family legacy of Steve Lax, chairman of Naot and subject of this issue’s Q&A (p. 10). He mentioned that his mother, who recently passed away, was a Holocaust survivor who endured two death marches and captivity in Auschwitz. She is one reason he’s passionate about continuing his family’s legacy. He took a huge risk in acquiring Naot five years ago when he could have sailed comfortably into retirement. Rather than risk seeing all that he and his family had helped build crumble, Lax put up his family’s life savings and has since steadfastly worked to unify Naot on a worldwide scale. The effort involves mentoring the company’s next generation of leaders, including his daughter, Aylet, who recently took the helm of the U.S. division. It’s an inspiring story of perseverance and passion—and the little-known asides about Lax serving in the Israeli army, founding a kibbutz and being a cotton farmer before getting into the shoe business in a roundabout way truly bring his long, strange trip to life.
You’ll find plenty more captivating anecdotes and asides in the pages of this issue. Take, for example, Erica Kubersky, who founded vegan-only destination MooShoes with her sister Sara nearly 20 years ago. They have since expanded to Los Angeles and added a deli component to their New York location. In this month’s What’s Selling profile (p. 38), Kubersky discusses the community-first approach to retailing that has been key to their store’s longevity. As yet another interesting side note, both sisters met their future husbands through the store. Business can be tough and the sisters argue at times, but it has provided serendipitous benefits neither of them could have foreseen.
I hope you enjoy reading the stories in this issue as much as we have enjoyed writing them. While Footwear Plus is a magazine dedicated to covering the latest brands, products, trends and business strategies—all in stunning, award-winning visual glory—we also pride ourselves on digging a little deeper when it comes to reporting. Think of us as old school in an enriching, informative and entertaining way. We want our readers to really get to know the designers, buyers and brand builders behind the businesses that make our industry so vibrant and exciting. And, TBH and IMHO, you just can’t do that in a stream of acronyms or emojis.