Canadian Footwear Brand ‘Vessi’ Triples Sales Amid Goodwill Initiatives

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A Vancouver-based footwear retailer has turned the concept of ‘doing good’ into a smart business practice as the company has three times its sales since embarking on the community goodwill initiative.

Vessi, a direct to consumer sneaker company, recently turned to its online community to ask how it could give back and then launched a series of initiatives for COVID-19 (coronavirus) relief.

Tony Yu, co-founder of the company who focuses on the marketing and business development and strategy side of the business, said giving back to the community is the right thing to do.

“The community is like what brought us up. If we can give back to our community, we’re effectively making our home even a better place,” said Yu. “It’s one of the core things from our founders’ perspective but we also feel kind of obligated to help be that voice of our customers. How can we give back?”


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Apply via our #linkinbio!⁠⠀ ⁠You know your community best. ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Over the past few weeks we’ve been blown away by the initiatives of our community in the fight against COVID-19. From creating a volunteer network of grocery deliveries, 3d printing PPE, to buying meals for our frontline healthcare workers, we realized that you know your community best. ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ This is why we’ve set up the Vessi Community Fund – a fund to support our everyday heroes who are looking to make a difference through small acts of kindness within their community.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ To kick start things off, we’re giving away $1,000/day to support 10 community projects daily. Everyone is welcome to apply, no project is too small – we’ve got your back.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Apply today and tag a friend – let’s create moments of happiness and #makewaves⁠ 🌊

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“We shifted a lot of our existing marketing budget over to community relief efforts.”

The online retailer has given away 2,000 free sneakers to health-care workers, launched a ‘pay what you can’ model to donate 400,000 face masks, and created a Community Fund Program to give away $100,000 for initiatives launched in the community. It also started Vessi TV giving the community ways to stay healthy and cope with the coronavirus crisis.

Yu said the fund supports small community projects - everything from volunteers delivering groceries and medicine, to people making face masks and personal protective equipment.

“However we can use this fund to enable small pockets of happiness now that’s really the mandate,” he said.

Vessi was founded in 2017 but it launched publicly in September 2018.


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These past few weeks have been so enlightening while we've connected with our healthcare communities. We've learned so much about all the moving parts and the importance of the essential-services fighting COVID-19. Thank you for sharing your stories with us and binding our communities together!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Our mission to help during this pandemic is far from finished. We are bursting with ideas to keep us all connected, supported and uplifted during this hard time. ⁠Stay tuned and follow along for all of our next steps.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ For the time being, our Choose What you Pay sale in support of fundraising PPE for Canadian and US healthcare workers is still on for a limited time! ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ To the healthcare workers, thank you for including us on your journey! We're all in this together.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Have any questions or suggestions on how we can stay involved? Leave us a comment below to connect!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Vessi⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ 📸⁠⠀ 1. @ohlacherie⁠⠀ 2. @awesomemom2000tv⁠⠀ 3. @hwebber01⁠⠀ 4. @brooke.vdb⁠⠀ 5. Sarah and the Maple Ridge Urgent & Primary Care Team⁠⠀

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COVID-19 definitely put a damper on the retailer’s expansion plans.

“We’ve had a really good experience with retail stores when we set up our pop up stores. So that was a pretty big disappointment. We were in the process of actually designing a proper retail front. We have our locations really set up like an experience centre. You can walk into the store, slip on a pair of shoes from our shoe bar and then walk through water inside the stores. We’ve built out this whole feature set,” said Yu.

But when that was put on hold the company began thinking creatively on how it could help the community and give back to the community.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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