The process of selecting shoes and accessories we bring to you at Plum Bottom begins approximately six months prior to products arriving at our stores. We order our fall shoes in January, and shoes for the next spring in August. But the journey for those items to get to our shelves (and your feet) begins more than a year in advance of that timeline. We’ve had the privilege of getting to participate in the process of product development for several of our vendors. Lauren Trea traveled to Alicante, Spain several years ago, where she gave her input to the design team at Pikolinos headquarters. I’ve been tapped by the ARA corporate leaders to offer my feedback while they are working in Germany--though I’m still waiting on that personal invitation to visit the factory 😉 Our most influential vendor relationship is certainly with the women who design and run Yaleet, which you would know as Naot Footwear.
In March of 2020, I was invited to attend the product development meeting in Long Island. As you might have guessed that the meeting was not held in person that year. Instead, they quickly pivoted to a virtual format, where I spent several days in Zoom meetings with their team as the line was curated. Even in those early days, Naot’s president Ayelet was making decisions that would secure the health of NAOT and her retail partners like Plum Bottom. As jarring as it was to move into “shut down” mode at the store, I was immediately reassured that with leaders like Ayelet at the helm, we would work together to ensure that we all came out the other side of the pandemic stronger than ever.
Naot makes a mix of classic sandals and totally fresh looks in a wide variety of colors, textures and widths.
I’ve participated in several other virtual design meetings with Naot since then. Triumphantly, I finally traveled in person to Yaleet’s US corporate headquarters in October 2022 to work on the Fall 2023 line. Several sales representatives attend this meeting, as well as the women running Naot’s corporate buying program; I was there to share the retail perspective; the design team in Israel joins via Zoom; and Ayelet runs the entire operation with impressive clarity and focus. Input is welcome, decisions are made (and sometime re-made) as we review each new item; discussing its design, color options and comparative possible reception to the market, based on previous successful shoes. It’s fast-paced, totally engrossing, and completely, 100% executed by women. I do not know of any other shoe brand whose decision makers comprise an entirely female team and it felt empowering to be a part of this decisive group.
I wish I had more pictures to share with you, but I only took one—and I had to cover up the shoes. As you can imagine, Yaleet does not want images of their product publicly seen until they are ready to hit the sales floor, so they cannot be copied by competitors.
My experience at the product development meeting drove home the importance of the partnership we've created with brands like NAOT and the relationship with our customers. Our focus on companies that make the highest quality, most comfortable products dovetail exactly with Plum Bottom's ethos. We aren't selling shoes; we are helping you solve problems. We're helping you find shoes that fit, and that make you feel great inside and out. When you share your feedback with us, know that it gets passed along to the decision makers, which means that YOU are also personally helping to shape the future of the brands we carry. Thank you!