A few words with Wado founders

Wado shoes sustainable niche brand

A few moths ago, I published an article about the long tail effect in fashion retail and how niche brands are disrupting the industry. Direct-to-Consumer and digitally native brands are writing the rules of the Transformation Economy where the HOW is more important than the WHAT. In this case, HOW would include not only the shopping experience, but how the product is produced, packaged, sent…

Wado, a niche brand founded in Barcelona (Spain) in March 2018, with a consistent storytelling already convinced thousands of sneaker lovers from more than 75 countries.

Wado is the Spanish sneakers company founded in March 2018 that raised more than €500.000 in Kickstarter, the crowdfunding platform. It´s the highest raising in the history of Kickstarter Spain.

Last week, I received my Wado shoes. These are a few images that give some insights about Wado´s storytelling, product presentation and customer experience.

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The Fashion Retailer: Who are the founders of Wado?

Marta Llaquet. 29 years old. Born in Barcelona. Co-founder of Wado, worked 3 years in strategic consulting and a personal project of sunglasses when she finished her degree in Business Administration at the University of ESADE. Immediately afterwards, he studied a Master of Digital Marketing and began to create on the idea of ​​a brand of sustainable sneakers. Linkedin profile.

Lizzie Sabin. 29. Born in Barcelona. Co-founder of Wado, BA at ESADE, has worked in marketing and communication since her career ended. She worked for two years in a communications agency in New York and 3 more years in Barcelona. Linkedin profile.

Damian Augustyniak. 29. Born in Lodz (Poland). Co-founder of Wado, has always been an entrepreneur. He has established two companies; an electronic music events agency and a virtual reality company. Damián never stopped training in the field of image and design through small projects and collaborations with other creators. Linkedin profile.

Marta Llaquet Lizzie Sabin Damian Augustyniak Wado shoes founders

From left to right, Damian, Marta and Lizzie

The Fashion Retailer: How do you caught the entrepreneurial bug? How Wado was ideated and born?

Wado: Marta and Damian are two entrepreneurs. Marta created her low-cost sunglasses company and Damian a music events company and then a virtual reality company. The idea of ​​Wado came to Marta´s mind when studying her Digital Marketing master.

TFR: What does Wado mean?

Wado: For the Cherokee, ancient Indian tribe of the United States, Wado means “thank you“. We have chosen this name as a way to thank both nature and those who made it possible for us to launch our project through Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

TFR: What is the positioning and value proposition? 

Wado: What make us different is:

▪ The balance between DESIGN, SUSTAINABILITY AND COMPETITIVE PRICE. Strategy, brand values ​​and communication always follow these three pillars and all the actions we do maintain this coherence.

Wado shoes value proposition playgreen

▪ We produce in small artisan factories in Portugal (the Iberian Peninsula). This way, we are empowering local industry, near short production and reducing CO2 emissions from transport.

WADO sneakers sustainable made in portugal playgreen fashion retail

Made in Portugal – Visibility and Transparency, a trend in fashion

▪ At Wado, we are aware of the deforestation (Wado reforesting project) that our planet is suffering. That is the reason why we collaborate with the NGO WeForestWhen you buy a pair of shoes, we plant two trees in Khasi Hills in the northeast of India. Together, we can reforest the most needed areas, in addition to help local communities to provide employment, wood and food resources.

WADO WeForest NGO Collaboration Ecological Restoration sustainability fashion sneakers brand

Collaboration with WeForest

▪ We manufacture with chromium-free production processes. The use of chromium in the leather tanning process can have very harmful effects on the worker’s health and the environment. We work with suppliers that use tanning processes without chromium. We are avoiding the dangerous effects of this toxic product on the shoemakers and also on the environment.

Another of our competitive advantage is our birth in crowdfunding. Wado is the Spanish fashion company that has achieved the most income in the history of Kickstarter and the repercussion that is having is crucial for our company.


TFR: What is your target? What do you feel are their needs? 

Wado: We call them, “Gamechangers”. People between 18-40 years old who worry about their image, and if they have the option, they prefer to reduce the environmental impact with what they do.

“At Wado we believe that everyone can be what we call a “Gamechanger”. Someone who carries out small actions that contribute to a better world.  Someone who is willing to begin the transition towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

In Cherokee,  Wado means “THANK YOU“. We have chosen this name as a way to thank both nature and those who made it possible for us to launch our project through Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

TFR: What could be your competitors?

Wado: Maians, Muroexe, Veja…

Wado sneakers gamechangers sustainable

TFR: Why did you choose Kickstarter platform to finance your initiative?

Wado: We have chosen to launch our project in Kickstarter because, from the beginning, we wanted to be an international brand, not just focus on the Spanish market and Kickstarter is the most international crowdfunding platform we know. It is for this reason that, since the beginning,  we always speak in English on all social networks. Now we are in Indiegogo, another platform of crowdfunding.

TFR: What are the pros and cons of starting your business thru a crowdfunding platform?

Wado: In only two months of life, we have managed to have 5,000 customers from 75 countries, equivalent to more than > 500,000 €. This has been entirely thanks to having used the Kickstarter platform and not another smaller platform or focused only in Europe.

The “negative thing” that I can think of right now is that the fact of having triumphed so much in Kickstarter and having started so big, we have a lot of pressure to maintain it, we do not have much margin to error and we have to go faster than expected.

TFR: For your First collection, you only produced a shoe model in 6 different colors. What are you plans in the future? (see Wado Collection)

Wado: We are a “start-up”, and as the name implies, you can imagine that we don’t have a fully developed strategy for the future. But we do know where we are headed.

We know that we want to collaborate with causes that help the environment (e.g. collecting PET plastic from the sea and using that PET to make recycled soles). We want to become more sustainable and that all materials we use are sustainable.

Wado shoes first collection sustainable sneakers

Apart from collaborating with other designers, artists, and environmental causes, we plan to launch two new models a year. That is our idea for now.

As for the sales channel, our first idea was to sell only though our ecommerce (that will be launched in September/October) but we are being contacted by many concept stores from all over the world (Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Belgium…) that want Wado in their stores, and this is something that we have to think about and analyze well.

Our objectives to achieve in a short – medium term are the following:

  • E-commerce launch
  • Sale in international retail (MAYBE)
  • Working on a brand identity
  • Road map towards sustainability
  • Being the benchmark sustainable sneaker company in Europe

TFR: What would you suggest to any person that is afraid to start its own business?

Wado: Go after your dream. The truth is, that it is very difficult to start something from nothing. You have to be brave and throw your entire self into something that has no guarantees that it will work.

It takes a lot of time, effort, and money, and often you need to quit your steady job. But, if you believe in your project with all your heart, I believe that you have to go for it and fight to the fullest, because the reward is that you are working for something that is yours.

Every day is a challenge. The risks are high, but you are in control of your life. You will be motivated, and you will learn so much every day. Not everyone has the backbone of an entrepreneur, but if you have a good idea, and above all good partners that complement you, I say go for it, make the jump!



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