New Brand Feets Is Making It Cool For Guys To Care About Their Feet
Guys care about their shoes. Feets wants them to care about what they put in them as well.
From the minds of digital product manager Jay Bhankharia, chief creative officer Mike Karam and venture capital investor Matt Jung, the new brand is intent on persuading men to integrate foot maintenance into their regular wellness practices. It’s kicking off with a foot mask, but plans to build a broad assortment of foot care essentials tailored to the specific needs and preferences of men to transform their oft-ignored extremities from gnarly to nice.
“Walking around the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn, when we looked into spas and salons, we saw a lot of people and men in particular getting pedicures,” says Bhankharia. “Seeing the trend of more men getting pedicures at spas and salons, we really thought there was an opportunity to create a line of foot care products that helped men take care of their feet.”
Feets’ Hydrating Foot Mask, which is priced at $30 for a pack of three, introduces men to elevated foot care without forcing them to shift their habits dramatically. The brand recommends they slip their feet into the masks once a week for 15 to 20 minutes. The Hydrating Foot Mask is larger than common foot masks available for women and designed to fit men with up to size 14 feet. For fellows gravitating to fresh, energizing scents and sensations, it has tea tree, witch hazel, peppermint, green tea and ginger. The Hydrating Foot Mask’s formula avoids parabens, sulfates, silicones and synthetic fragrances.
“As I became more mindful of my feet and started on this journey. I realized my feet were ashy, rough and dry. Since using this product, I’ve seen a material change. It’s been fun,” says Bhankharia. “One of our taglines is, ‘foot mask and chill.’ My wife and I put our foot masks on, watch some Netflix, grab some wine, and make it part of our relaxation routine.”
“One of our taglines is, ‘foot mask and chill.’ My wife and I put our foot masks on, watch some Netflix, grab some wine, and make it part of our relaxation routine.”
Karam, Jung and Bhankharia were connected long before Feets. Jung, founding partner at The Ember Co., and Karam, chief strategy partner at Laird + Partners, went to high school together, and Jung’s wife attended Columbia Business School with Bhankharia, who’s senior director at S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Their journey to Feets is a relatively recent development. In February, they began ruminating about the rise of men’s health brands like Hims and Roman, and foot care being explicitly left out of the men’s health conservation to date. The gap was especially glaring with sneaker culture capturing men’s interest and dollars, suggesting that men are primed to pay attention to products that have to do with their feet.
Karam, Jung and Bhankharia peg Feets’ core customers as stylish 25- to 34-year-old men residing in cities that tend to their bodies inside and out. These men might be going to Barry’s Bootcamp and scouring stone fruit at their local farmers’ markets. Consumers enmeshed in the skate and surf sector are targets, too.
Karam has been tasked with fleshing out Feets brand beyond its merchandise. “We wanted to make sure we had a strong purpose to communicate why we are doing what we are doing,” he says. “The vision is around helping guys stay grounded and helping them move throughout life wherever life moves them.”
“The vision is around helping guys stay grounded and helping them move throughout life wherever life moves them.”
Karam is keenly aware of the criticism lobbed at direct-to-consumer brands that they share a similar aesthetic that’s becoming boring. His objective was for Feets’ design to be sophisticated and modern, and relevant to DTC consumers without swimming in the sea of sameness. It relies on earth tones to underscore its philosophy of guys staying grounded, has a bold logo of capitalized letters to draw eyeballs, and isn’t afraid to show feet in its imagery.
Feets’ approach to distribution is focused on DTC along with key retail partnerships. To attract traffic to its website, the brand will invest in influencer marketing, paid social media on Facebook and Instagram, and public relations. It’s already participating in Steven Alan’s pop-up at Rockefeller Center in New York. Leading men’s apparel and footwear retailers like Saturdays NYC and Kith are on Feets’ distribution wish list. The self-funded brand’s goal is to reach $1 million in first-year sales.
To inform Feets’ product pipeline, its co-founders delved into consumer research that revealed men have concerns involving smelly, sweaty, dry and calloused feet. The brand will roll out items such as foot spray, nail files and clippers, and moisturizers to tackle those concerns, and anticipates rounding out the product categories renew, repair, relief, protect and perform.
“With Feets, we have an opportunity to educate our clients on why their feet matter and provide them with a brand that speaks to them with a holistic tool kit that will manifest that for them,” says Bhankharia. “We really see the niche we are narrowing down as an extension of the self-care, wellness and grooming market.”