To have both an entrepreneurial spirit and a craft or skill seems to me a wonderful gift. What a beautiful feeling it must be to discover something you enjoy and do well, which will also provide value to clients who will pay for your product or services. What a joy it must be to be able to provide those products or services knowing confidently that your offering will be presented as a quality finished product that the client or customer will love and appreciate. In that arena, a new mentor has come into light for me. Annie Mohaupt is my new hero and mentor (although only at a distance, for now!) I’d like to introduce you to her and her impressive story, as I understand it.
Annie Mohaupt is the founder of Mohop Shoes. She was an architect not quite satisfied with her career. An artist at heart, she longed to create something beautiful with her hands, something for which there would become such a strong demand that she’d have to quit her job to attend the craft full-time. With soul searching and exploring her options, she discovered she could transfer the skills of her formal education and training to the design and crafting of shoes. She worked “like a mad scientist” to refine the product design and manufacturing processes that would affect the uniqueness and quality of the final product. As she had hoped, the demand for her shoes grew quickly.
In order to meet the demand, Annie made a difficult decision she later regretted: to have her unique shoes manufactured in China. Upon delivery of the cases of mass produced shoes, Annie found the quality of the end product was inferior. With strong ethics and fortitude, Annie was determined to make good on all the orders for her quality shoes. I love this quote from an article she wrote for XOJane:
I didn’t know what else to do but carry on. Those shoes were promised to customers and shops. I hired several helpers to take the shoes apart and rebuild them from scratch. Over the next couple years, we remade every pair, and it was the experience of systematically assembling each pair that taught me not just to approach shoemaking in a much simpler way, but also to reclaim my love of making things.
So Annie went back to the shop in her basement and diligently, passionately found ways to improve the process that would increase production while maintaining her own strict quality standards for the finished product. Her customers loved their Mohop Shoes and the word spread like wildfire, faster than Annie and her growing team could keep up with production!
Recognizing that she loved what she was doing, Annie was committed, and she and her team decided a US manufacturing facility was the answer. Their Kickstarter project was designed with the purpose of funding a Las Vegas, Nevada manufacturing facility. That goal was achieved with the help of 435 backers with six days to spare in the project campaign. This is a testament to the commitment of the team, and the appreciation shown by the customers, who shared the campaign with enthusiasm! As with most Kickstarter projects, Annie and team posted a Stretch Goal, which was met with 2 days to spare. Now, with only 90 minutes to go… No failure, because of commitment.