Game Changers: Stephen Hawthornthwaite, Co-Founder and CEO; Roth Martin, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Rothy’s
This is an excerpt from an interview conducted with Stephen Hawthornthwaite, co-founder and CEO, and Roth Martin, co-founder and chief creative officer, both of Rothy’s, a San Francisco-based startup that turns plastic water bottles into trendy women’s shoes, which it sells via its website and a brick-and-mortar store in its hometown. Hawthornthwaite and Martin were recognized by Total Retail as entrepreneurs that are disrupting the traditional retail industry. For the full interview, as well as profiles of other entrepreneurs and startups that are reshaping retail's future, check out our 2018 Game Changers issue.
Total Retail: What was the “aha moment” when you realized you might have a successful business?
Roth Martin: We’ve always believed in our business and felt passionately about our brand values, but a great initial validation was when Gwyneth Paltrow included Rothy’s in her San Francisco pop-up, Goop Mrkt, in May 2016. Being asked to participate demonstrated that there was an entire group of people who shared our passion for a new type of shoe that married comfort, style and sustainability, and that our message was really resonating with women.
TR: Can you tell us about a successful initiative (e.g., marketing, product development, logistics, etc.) your company launched in the last year?
RM: We launched our Girls collection this July, which offers our loafer in 10 designs for girls approximately five years old to 12 years old. We’ve been hearing our customers demand “mommy and me” pairs ever since the brand took off. We’re really excited for girls to enjoy this shoe. The initial response has been overwhelmingly positive, especially among our incredibly engaged social following. We will also continue to add new silhouettes for women at a measured pace.
TR: How are you planning to scale your business?
Stephen Hawthornthwaite: Focus on building great product and ensure we’re delighting our customers. Continue to make talented additions to the team and expand our manufacturing capacity to keep up with the tremendous demand we’re seeing. Constantly research and reimagine everyday essentials to meet the various needs of a woman’s day.
TR: Can you share the technologies and service providers in your technology stack?
SH: We use a proprietary 3-D knitting technology that weaves the fibers of recycled water bottles into a completely seamless shoe. This allows us to create a product with virtually no waste, which is such a prevalent issue in the fashion industry. We’re extremely proud of the fact that our shoes are made sustainably and are 100 percent recyclable.
TR: What’s your forecast for the retail industry in 2019? What should retailers be preparing their businesses for?
RM: Consumers are becoming more aware and conscious of companies’ ethics, not only in their culture but also in their product and supply chain. With this demand for transparency, we believe there will be an uptick in brands that lean towards more sustainable and ethical business practices in order to make consumers who shop by their values feel confident about their purchase decisions.
For the rest of this interview, and others like it, download Total Retail's 2018 Game Changers issue.
Related story: Total Retail's 2018 Game Changers List