Like many brands in the footwear industry, Livie & Luca faced significant challenges this year amid the extreme fluctuations in children’s retailing. But for CEO and founder Mitzi Rivas, the only option was to respond with innovation. “We just decided that we are a niche company,” she said. “By focusing on our purpose and on what we are doing well, a lot of clarity has come from that and where we are heading for our future.”
Rivas noted that the brand, founded in 2005, saw its wholesale business decline last year. His team therefore began to strengthen their direct-to-consumer sales channels and to embark on new avenues of sale, such as direct shopping. And he has been busy expanding his product assortment.
In August, the brand will launch a capsule collection of women’s ballerinas developed with today’s lifestyle in mind, emphasizing comfort and versatility for moms.
While Livie & Luca have already tried their hand at the women’s category, Rivas said this new launch comes with a strong intention. “We design our products with families and children,” she said. “After getting to know these moms – what they like, what they crave – I just felt like, my God, I want to be their cup of chamomile tea. I want them to know that we have them.
To create the women’s line, Product Manager Emily Pierdinock-Hagen looked at the company’s biomechanical learnings from years of making children’s shoes. “The shoe had to be light, soft and molded around the foot,” said Pierdinock-Hagen. “It’s pretty deconstructed and made from a soft leather so it adapts to the foot over time.”
The ballerina will debut in three colorways that will be available exclusively on the brand’s website for $ 128 to $ 132, with more color options on the way for Spring ’22. And Livie & Luca aims to present other silhouettes next fall. “We’re going slowly so that we can gather information from the customer,” Pierdinock-Hagen said.
Meanwhile, the brand has also embraced the sustainability movement, rethinking its product, presentation and operations. Rivas recalled that there were a lot of questions at the start. “We knew it was our responsibility to do it, but how can we do it our way? How do we still keep what makes our mark? she said.
To start off, Livie & Luca presented the eco-conscious ReJoy collection in spring ’21. The sneaker line launched with three models, with a fourth being added for fall ’21. All shoes are vegan and contain organic and recycled materials. They sell for between $ 59 and $ 69 on the brand’s website and in physical stores, like Sikes Children’s Shoes in Homewood, Ala.
Sikes GM Cindy Weninger said the sneakers stand out even more for their aesthetics than for their durability. “Sometimes we have customers coming in asking for vegan products, but it’s the look of the shoes that matters most to our customers,” she said.
In addition, Livie & Luca has reworked its shoeboxes to incorporate recycled content, reduce the carbon footprint and encourage reuse. “My favorite part is that the boxes have a coloring card inside,” said Pierdinock-Hagen, adding that the boxes can be shipped without additional packaging and the fold-down handles eliminate the need for shopping bags.
Going forward, Livie & Luca is exploring other ways to incorporate environmentally friendly materials into the core collection, with the goal of eventually addressing the full life cycle of all of its products. “Every season new information comes in. It’s constantly evolving and constantly evolving, ”said Pierdinock-Hagen.