After working outside of footwear for five years, industry veteran Kristin Burrows has returned to lead OrthoLite – and intends to make the company a “need to have” for big girls. shoe brands.
In April, OrthoLite tapped Burrows to fill his new role as Chief Brand Officer. The OrthoLite front executive resume features some of the biggest names in the industry, including Converse, Fila, Adidas, Asics and others.
In addition to making OrthoLite a need rather than a benefit for shoe brands, Burrows is focused on making the company a household name like other component makers, such as Gore-Tex and Vibram.
Below, Burrows outlines her vision for OrthoLite at FN and why she returned to shoes.
What made OrthoLite an attractive destination for you?
“I spent the first 20 years of my career in sports shoes, then the last five years I worked in management consulting. I really missed a few things. I really missed making decisions, doing I was part of a team that was working towards one goal, I missed the shoes. It’s a special place. It’s an industry that has a different energy. And then OrthoLite itself. [Founder and CEO] Glenn [Barrett] is a great person for his generosity, the way he treats his team. It’s a great story and I like that there’s a big sustainability angle. This mark is at an inflection point. We’ve been focused on manufacturing, and now we really need to open that up a bit. We are 25 years old. What will be the big growth over the next 3-5 years as we look to enhance and expand our role as an insole solutions provider to truly become a footwear solutions provider for our brand partners? »
Specific to the footwear industry, what did you miss the most while you were away?
“I’ve worked in sportswear, apparel and consultancy. I think the shoes have great people. It’s hard work, play hard [industry], I feel like people are transparent, I feel like people are quite direct. Overall I find it very refreshing.
What can you take from your experiences at Converse, Adidas and other former employers and apply them to your role at OrthoLite?
“One of the huge benefits is that I understand footwear, and as a former product line manager/retailer, I understand how decisions are made in terms of creating a product, from design to development in going through partnering with your factories and other suppliers. I think that’s been a big help. Secondly, what really interests me is sitting on the other side with a brand of ingredients which is more B2B than B2C, what is the mix of communication, marketing, brand building that best suits the different stakeholders The product line manager vs the developer vs the materials manager – and our days you have all these sustainability leaders and managers – versus the end consumer. How well do we want the end consumer to understand OrthoLite and what should or shouldn’t the marketing mix be? I was really intrigued to work with [OrthoLite director of marketing] Dan [Legor] about solving this problem, this opportunity.
What made B2B vs B2C appealing to you?
“You look up [component] brands there – Gore-Tex, for example, Vibram, Intel inside as non-shoes example – I think back like, ‘How do I know them?’ As an end consumer, something with Gore-Tex I will be more likely to buy. So what do we need to do to be a need to have versus a pleasure to have? I think it’s a really interesting challenge.
Why isn’t OrthoLite better known than it is today? And how to achieve it?
“Our assumption is that part of it is in messaging and communication, I wouldn’t say strategy but production to date. And just looking at the different mediums we use and how do we possibly leverage them differently, like do we want to do something on TikTok, for example? Does that make sense? Doesn’t that make sense? When you’re on LinkedIn, should you look the same as on Instagram? How do our consumers consume media, and do we need to change or adjust our messages based on what that medium is? We know a customer isn’t going to go to Nike and say, “I demand you have OrthoLite in your shoes. But we have to get to the point where they’re like, ‘Oh my God, if we take it down, it won’t sell either.’
What is your vision for OrthoLite?
“We seek to create comfort, performance and sustainable solutions for our footwear partners, not just insoles. For example, how can we play a bigger role in helping them achieve their sustainability goals that we know come from the board and legislation? Two years from now, the landscape will look very different in terms of what brands need to deliver to achieve these goals. »
What are the biggest areas of opportunity for OrthoLite?
“On the innovation side, a real opportunity is to continue to innovate through good, better and better prices so that we can serve our partner brands in even more product categories. Also, what is really exciting is that we will be meeting over the next 6-8 weeks to define our growth strategy for the next 3-5 years. Think classically about how companies figure out how to grow. It’s either I’m going to sell more of what I’m selling to existing customers, I’m going to sell new things to existing customers, I’m going to make new things and sell them to new customers. Which of these areas will define us for the next phase of OrthoLite’s life? »
How have industry-wide issues such as inflation and supply chain impacted OrthoLite?
“Rising inflation costs impact everyone. We have to figure out what part of that we’re going to suffer and what part we can or cannot pass on to our partners. On the supply chain side, surprisingly, we have been able to maintain delivery and quality expectations despite all the challenges, largely because we are vertically integrated. We own our own factories. Strategically, one of the smart decisions made by Glenn and his team was to build our factories right next to the T1 factories in China, Vietnam, Indonesia, India and Spain that the brand uses so as not to ship to another country. We cross the street, so to speak, to be able to deliver on time. We haven’t been impacted by transportation supply chain issues like so many others.