Julie Adams, founder and president, Pakems, Denver
After an 18-year career as an attorney, Julie Adams was ready to climb a new mountain in search of a challenge. And to help accommodate this climb, she created a new line of footwear.
Adams created the Pakems product line to provide a comfortable substitute for inflexible and heavy ski boots on the long walk to and from the mountain. The Pakems line quickly became popular with ski enthusiasts and those who love to hike through the great outdoors.
Q: What was the genesis of your new company, and is this the first company you created?
Julie Adams: This is my first business launch, and the genesis for this company was a combination of a new quality of life, entrepreneurial dreams and a pure goal of seeing my son when he gets out of school. I have no problem working all times of the day - I just need and desire the time to raise my son and have a company. And 18 years being an employment attorney was plenty!
Q: How long did it take to get your company up and running, and when did it officially launch?
Julie Adams: The official launch was Portland, Oregon, in a September 2011 meeting with former Nike designers. Our very first trade show was in The Summer Outdoor Retailer show in 2012 with two very, very simple pro types. The official launch with samples was the Winter Outdoor Retailer in January 2013 and the Snow Sports Show in February 2013. We returned from the Summer Outdoor Retailer show landing more sales accounts.
Q: What have been some of the challenges in starting and running your company - and, on the flip side, what have been some of your triumphs to date?
Julie Adams: The challenges are everything from finding capital and creating more capital for development and inventory. The day-to-day is intense, between designing the shoe, perfecting the shoe, sourcing the manufacturing and managing quality control, creating a marketing plan, materials, staff management, sales and shipping - you name it!
The triumphs: owning my own business! The accountability and the challenges are great. I feel more alive than ever. And, mostly, and I get to see and be with my eight-year-old son at the most important times. The rewards that say we are on the right path are the major national accounts and more coming!
Q: How are you promoting and marketing your product line?
Julie Adams: We are using our website for both sales and marketing, and we attend key strategic trade shows in the outdoor and ski industry. We also have catalog distribution with Sahalie and National Ski Patrol with regional Rocky Mountain retail stores such as Christy Sports, and national Internet sales with Moosejaw and Shoebuy.
We also utilize expert athletes and personalities in various sport outlets for feedback and endorsements and word of mouth. We have utilized strategic events for sampling, sales and branding, including the Go Pro Games, Vail Spring Event, and Aspen Highlands Spring event. We have also hired a public relations firm that specializes in the industries of our interest.
Q: What advice would you give to potential entrepreneurs who are considering an entry into the footwear and/or apparel market?
Julie Adams: I have learned that footwear has a lot of moving parts. The industry is very difficult to enter into due to the various sizes and styles, and new launches and evolution of the designs. I don’t regret any of it and at the same time be ready to line up more investors than you ever thought. You must network - and, yes, you will work harder than you have ever in your life.
Julie Adams’ Pakems is online at www.pakems.com.