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Meet Our Client, Soludos.

Posted by Breanna Sheldon on : November  02,  2017

As a growing footwear company, our client Soludos, needed an office that perfectly expresses the character of its brand, while nurturing creativity and efficiency for its people.

Espadrilles occupy a special place in the world of footwear. The artist Salvador Dali was famous for wearing these flat, rope-soled slippers that originated in Spain. Pablo Picasso and Grace Kelly were fans as well. So around 2006, when entrepreneur Nick Brown moved to New York City from London, he was shocked to discover that they hadn’t really made it across the Atlantic. That’s when he decided to set about rectifying the situation. Within five years, he founded Soludos.

Located in New York’s chic SoHo neighborhood, the company now makes highly sought-after contemporary versions of the classic Mediterranean footwear. “What’s been amazing is this organic growth that we’ve had the past few years,” says Brown, whose first order—for 80 shoes—shipped with tags that he wrote up by hand. Fast forward two years and Soludos is selling more than 100 pairs a day online. High-end retailers in the United States and around the world carry the line—”We have a great business in Japan, the UK, and Australia,” Brown says—so not only has the company increased its staff, but it also works with a growing number of partners and customers. Unfortunately, however, Soludos’s workplace hadn’t kept up. “Our team was swelling, the walls were starting to close in a little bit,” Brown says. “We needed a new space that could help us with the needs of our business.”

It had been less than two years since the company moved into its previous location, and according to Robert Wright, marketing director for Soludos, the team worked tirelessly on evolving the business, but not enough on evolving the space to support its growth. “At that stage of the company, thinking about choosing the right desks and sourcing all of that isn’t really at the top of your list,” Wright says.

Growing Pains

It soon became apparent, however, that failing to address the deficiencies of the company’s physical space was a critical misstep. As the pressure on the space grew, the clutter was hard to control. “There were just piles of boxes everywhere,” Brown says. “We couldn’t find samples that we needed before rushing off to a (photo) shoot. We were constantly scrambling through everything.” The tight space had an open plan that was intended to facilitate collaboration, but it ended up being a challenge for teams as well as individuals. There was little privacy, which meant that people who worked on the phone a lot—on international sales or customer service—disturbed the whole office. And when employees wanted to touch base for a quick chat or a more formal conversation, no settings within the space supported such activities adequately.

The single meeting space had to serve many purposes, and it didn’t always live up to the challenge. “It was also a storage closet, and the place where we held a lot of interviews,” says marketing manager Lauren Tauflinger. “That made for a really fun time when boxes were collapsing on top of the people who we were trying to bring into the office.” The designers, who also used the space as a de-facto studio, found themselves constantly moving mood boards and prototypes into the crowded room to work on them, then out again to accommodate meetings or interviews.

But worst of all, the space simply didn’t embody the purpose and character of the Soludos brand. Brown travels the world for inspiration, and the company is connected to some of the biggest names in fashion. “For us to differentiate ourselves, to have that personality and to foster an emotional connection between customers and our product is the most important focus over the next few years,” he says. “There was a bit of a disconnect between our office and the brand that we aspire to be.”

Brown and his team turned to Herman Miller to find out how to bridge that gap. Soludos also brought in interior design company Homepolish to help add personalized details and informal spaces. The teams collaborated to create a workplace that supported both the day-to-day needs of individual employees and the long-term vision for the Soludos brand.

“Homepolish came in (and) really integrated with us and with the Herman Miller team, and brought a lot of personality from the brand to the space,” Wright says. This was particularly true in the living room areas and the showroom space. The result is a welcoming office that signals the creative energy of the company, or as Wright puts it, “It makes for an environment that’s really much more us.”

(Case study made available by Herman Miller)

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