Vessi’s Andy Wang on Creating Waterproof Direct-to-Consumer Sneakers
In this series, we profile entrepreneurs approaching the top of their game, and ask them how they got there. This week, we speak to the co-founder of Vancouver-based Vessi, disrupting the footwear industry with a waterproof sneaker.
After launching in 2018, Vessi was pretty much a runaway success. The company sold six months worth of inventory in under one month. The all-purpose waterproof sneaker was created by a trio of entrepreneurs to create a comfortable shoe to carry Canadians through all four seasons.
Here, co-founder Andy Wang discusses disrupting footwear, product optimization and his daily routine.
Q & A
What do you enjoy most about the industry you’re in?
The footwear industry is a mature one, I enjoy the challenges of innovating a product that was created 40,000 years ago. Being a direct-to-consumer brand allows for the most direct form of communication with our customers. This enables us to consolidate first hand feedback to fine tune our products.
Best advice you have ever been given?
Learn from those better than you but never try and do everything yourself.
What is one trait you have, that you find has attributed to your success?
Perseverance, but careful not to have tunnel vision.
Who are your some of your role models?
My parents, Phil Knight and Stephen Curry.
What makes it all worth it?
Seeing people’s reaction when they try on our shoes, especially in water. Just knowing that our products are making people’s lives a bit easier by them having less things to worry about the uncontrollable such as the weather.
What long term goals do you have?
Creating a range of products with technical comfort at its core. To do our best in innovating sustainable methods of production and use of materials.
Mornings: I enjoy consistency, I’ll start with breakfast which is similar everyday. A serving of greens, oatmeal blended with protein powder and fruits. Then I will prepare my meals for the day. I’ve given up on working out in the morning. I usually get too tired if I go before work.
Workday: Having friends in similar industries without ties to Vessi as sounding boards. It helps to prevent me from getting tunnel vision and lose sight or focus. Spending time with the team outside of work to discover more candid feedback and insight. At the moment I spend the bulk of my day with co-workers revolved around products and creative content. It’s a mix of people; our team whether it be product, finance, or marketing have so much for me to learn from. I eat with my coworkers mostly. It’s a great time to learn more about them beyond work. I love cooking with friends and family. I eat really simple food. I like steamed vegetables (I always bring a box to work to snack on), a type of protein with beans and rice.
Evenings: I enjoy watching a video not directly related to work while preparing ingredients for the next day’s meals. It sets the tone for tomorrow and prevents me from rushing to get ready in the morning. For workouts, I like weight training. I enjoy how the result is a direct reflection of the amount of work put in and discipline that is upheld.
Good old calendar on my phone. Asana, which I am still learning to be more active on. Procreate is really fun and useful to illustrate ideas and even thoughts. I like sketching out designs to remember them for future inspo or to have an illustrated mental snapshot of my thoughts. I used to have lots of paper sprawled out on the table, now it can mostly be stored in procreate.
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. It’s an exciting memoir! It vividly illustrates Phil Knight’s journey; what inspired him and what he did to navigate through the shoe game.