Retail, Innovation and Manufacturing reporter for the NZ Herald

Starbucks founder invests $10m in All White's shoe brand

Allbirds co-founders Joey Zwillinger (left) and Tim Brown (right) wearing their wool runners shoes. Photo / Supplied
Allbirds co-founders Joey Zwillinger (left) and Tim Brown (right) wearing their wool runners shoes. Photo / Supplied

Kiwi merino footwear brand Allbirds will get a boost, having secured more than $9million from the Starbucks founder's investment company.

The US$7.25 million ($9.71 million) investment comes from Maveron - a fund developed by Howard Schultz, the founder and chief executive of Starbucks.

Allbirds was co-founded by former Wellington Phoenix captain and All Whites vice-captain Tim Brown, along with biotech engineer Joey Zwillinger.

The pair spent more than two years perfecting a textile suitable for shoes using superfine merino wool with a vegetable-oil based polyurethane insole before raising US$2.7m to launch in New Zealand and the US in March.

Brown said the money would allow the company to continue expanding and investing in research and development as well as hiring more staff.

Allbirds has around 15 staff working at its San Francisco office as well as contractors in New Zealand.

"It's really exciting times for us at the moment," Brown said. "Sales are going really well. When we first raised that money we sat down with our seed investors and set a target for the end of this year and they kind of laughed at us and now we're on track to probably triple that."

"And we could have maybe done more, but the biggest challenge has been making them fast enough."

The shoes, which cost around $95 on the Allbirds website, are touted as being an eco-friendly and comfortable wool shoe, and have already been selling well in the US and New Zealand although Brown said they were just beginning..

"Basically we're on a mission to try and make shoes more sustainable - bottom line," Brown said.

"So we've started with a wool shoe and we think there's a range of other natural materials that have been ignored by the footwear industry," he said.

"So we're trying to do things better and make shoes that are comfortable and more sustainable, and we've only just started."

- NZ Herald

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