Doing things the LOOM way

New travel shoe company with local ties aims to do business ­— and life ­— differently

<p class="p1">A new travel shoe company is weaving product and purpose together in an effort to help pay it forward.

<p class="p3">Mark McCormick, co-owner of Loom Way of Life, said the company produces lightweight, washable shoes and gives 10 percent of its profits away to empower Kenyan women working in their local markets. 

<p class="p3">McCormick, who previously worked in high-level management for such companies as Stride Rite, Keds and Sportco, created the shoe company with business partner Charley Brown, who had previously worked alongside him in product development. 

<p class="p3">“We’re like brothers,” said McCormick, a Sulphur transplant originally from Pittsburgh. 

<p class="p3">He said during one of their business trips they were asked to meet with a manufacturer who introduced them to an innovative garment. It creates a massive weave with a tremendous amount of flexibility, but is tight enough to retain its shape, “a big deal in the footwear industry,” McCormick said.

<p class="p3">“There is a fiber woven within the material that when you dunk it into a solution it would shrink, but once it was in that shape it kept its buoyancy,” he said.

<p class="p3">McCormick said he and Brown had long discussed the idea of forming their own shoe company based on their own values, focusing more on the quality of the product and the impact it could have on others.

<p class="p3">“In other words, people over profits,” he said. 

<p class="p3">McCormick said he and Brown recognized the woven fabric could have many applications in footwear, where comfort, durability, washability and breathable material are key. From there, Loom Way of Life was born.

<p class="p3">“Now that we have this material, we can make shoes extremely light,” he said. “A pair of these shoes only weighs 15 ounces; they pack really well.”

<p class="p3">For those who don’t want them in their suitcases, the shoes are shipped with a carabiner so they can be clipped to luggage, backpacks or purses for easy transport.

<p class="p3">“They’re easy to slip on and off for a flight, going through security, and when they’re dirty, you remove the foot bed and the shoes are washable,” he said. 

<p class="p3">Loom, which became incorporated at the end of 2017, offers three products — a slip-on walking shoe, boots and sandals. 

<p class="p3">“We use the tag line ‘Believe in the Weave’ because we wanted to really use that as our corporate mission of the soul of what the company is really about,” he said. “We embrace the term ethical consumption and we wanted to find some way that we could put our money where our mouth is and really find an organization that embraces what our core values are.”

<p class="p3">McCormick said the “ah-ha” moment for the company came while Brown was on a Kenyan safari with his wife.

<p class="p3">“The guide took them into the villages and in one village there was this group of women and young girls that were weaving different materials together making bracelets and necklaces and they were selling those necklaces to the tourists,” he said. “What we found out was the safari that he was on has a philanthropic arm and they underwrite materials for the Maasai Beaded Project in Kenya.”

<p class="p3">McCormick said what the pair loved about the project is that the organization purchases materials for the women, who then make the jewelry, which is sold to the tourists therefore allowing the women to become self-sufficient and self-sustaining. 

<p class="p3">“I didn’t even have to go on the safari to know that this was what we needed to anchor our philanthropic idea around,” he said. 

<p class="p3">McCormick said the company gives 10 percent of its profits to the Maasai Beaded Project and eventually plans to sell the village’s products on their website and return the proceeds back to the project.

<p class="p3">“We want to help eliminate limits for the women of Kenya,” he said. “A strong movement begins with the first step and we’ve got the footwear ready.”

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