Nobbits Produces Shoelaces that Refuse to Come Undone: The Trend Setting — and Practical — Shoelace

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From left to right: Nobbits shoelaces come inall sorts of stylish color combinations; Nobbits principals Dr. Jerlando F L Jackson, Chief Brand Officer and Co-Founder (l-r), Amos Anderson, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder and Ron Brent, President and Co-Founder Not pictured: Justin Hajny, Chief Financial Officer and Co-Founder; Nobbits ready for retail sales.

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Part 2 of 2

By Jonathan Gramling

There are times when a dream deferred — temporarily — ends up being the best path forward.

Ron Brent a publisher who had once been a practicing engineer has been supervised by Tom Koblintz. Together, they developed a shoelace called Nobbits that fused minute hardened nodes into shoelaces that prevented the shoelaces from coming untied. While Koblintz at first wanted to create something for his grandson, it soon became apparent to Koblintz and Brent that there was a large market for. The only problem was the technology didn’t exist to produce them commercially.

Fast forward 20 years and Brent took on partners Amos Anderson, Dr. Jerlando Jackson and Justin Hajny who solved the production problems and formed the company Nobbits, Inc. that will produce them for an international market.

On the first floor of the Nobbits facility stands a long and yet compact machine that can produce up to 800 pairs of the shoelaces in four hours ready to have aglet applied and then packaged and shipped. With the production side solved, they are now working on the marketing side of the equation.

Right now, Nobbits are available at University Bookstore — primarily in Bucky’s colors — and at Nevada Bob’s as well as on their website, www.nobbits.com. And while retail is an important part of their marketing strategy, marketing to organizations and companies are an important part of their plan. Traditional African American organizations is one market.

“On our website, you will see that there are Divine Nine color combinations and packages available,” Jackson said. “And we have bundled the Divine Nine together. And then you will see a Win Wisconsin color combination that aligns with our major sports at Wisconsin and UW-Madison. We can also accommodate most of the colors in the UW System.”

But the real bonanza may be in organized sports where athletes can run through countless pairs of athletic shoes per season.

“Certainly our shoelace has the ability to innovate certainly competitive sports and everyday activities,” Jackson said. “The scope of the lifespan for young people who have trouble keeping their shoelaces tied. As those become very mature, we want to make sure that the shoes stay on. Our shoelaces are a solution for that. We have the safety industry, the military, and security like the police. They do require secure footwear to do their jobs well. We think that we have a product that because most people do their shoes with shoelaces in them, that we can enhance their lives from a safety and security standpoint.”

And the partners feel that Nobbits have the potential to become a cultural sensation.

“We do have a sector that is completely attracted to our shoelaces because of the unique color combinations, “Jackson said. “They only see the fashion part of it. They see the style that they can bring to their shoes. It’s a persona and they will gravitate to our shoes. We think that Nobbits can have a craze similar to what the fat lace did in the 1980s that took it to the market because of its attachment to the growing hip hop industry with break dancers and the music scene. Young people took to that. We\are seeing a momentum going in that direction too.”

At $12.95 per pair, the Nobbits partners feel they are reasonably priced considering their longevity.

“As far as the price goes against high-fashion shoelaces, we’re right in the middle,” Jackson said. “There are laces made out of leather and gold that are significantly more expensive. We play right in the middle of the high-performance, high-fashion shoelace market. We’ve not had any questions from our customers about our prices because they are paying $100 plus for shoes. Our price fits in perfectly well. They should last the lifespan of most people’s shoes. A highly competitive athlete goes through shoes much quicker. We are working with some NCAA teams. They go through five pairs of shoes in a basketball season. That still holds true that our shoelaces perform throughout the lifespan of the shoes.”

Eventually Nobbits plans to go back to Nike and the Japanese company that were interested in buying the shoelaces 20 years ago once Nobbits has the machinery to mass produce the shoelaces in a timely manner for the large international companies. They are taking it one step at a time. In the meantime, the power of social media is not lost on the partners.

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“You can also order our shoelaces through all of our social media platforms,” Jackson emphasized. “We connected the dots there for that to happen. And we are going to open up some new opportunities to purchase with retailers. We have some retailer opportunities and have a sales team managing that process. We recently have gone on to fair.com. Retailers can apply to start applying to be a part of our sales team through that platform, which is going to be transformative for us in the long term. And in the near future, we will find ourselves on amazon.com and in box stores. We’re slow walking our process there just to make sure we are ready and it is the right move to make. We are definitely moving towards mass distribution.”

Brant is pleased, but not surprised by the success that Nobbits is experiencing.

“I absolutely thought that this would happen,” Brent said. “I kept the dream alive all of these years. It gives me a lot of satisfaction. It’s a great feeling and when you are surrounded by good people, good things can happen. So far, so good.”

Nobbits was an idea ahead of its time and its time is now.

For more information, visit www.nobbits.com.

 

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