How This Slipper Startup Found Success on ‘Shark Tank’ and Now During the Pandemic

Jennie Bell

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When Muvez made its TV debut on “Shark Tank” in April — and landed Daymond John as an adviser — it should have been a moment to celebrate. And indeed, the New Jersey-based footwear startup, which soft launched last fall, did see a spike in sales after the show’s airing. But the publicity also brought challenges.

Early in the year, the coronavirus pandemic shut down factories in China, where Muvez manufactures its debut slip-on shoes, dubbed the 3:AMs. So when that sales boom came, inventory was more limited than anticipated. Also, at the time, many non-essential businesses were halted in U.S.

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“Our distribution company was closed, so we went into the warehouse and started boxing up orders ourselves,” said CEO Eric Cruz, who co-founded Muvez with his brother Ryan and friend Kevin Zamora.

The trio developed their brand with the idea of creating “cooler post-workout footwear,” explained Cruz. The lightweight slippers retail for just under $100 on the Muvez e-commerce site and have a breathable knit upper with a collapsible neoprene heel for easy accessibility.

But the feature that has garnered the most attention of late is Muvez’ dual-sole technology: The 3:AMs are made with a lightweight rubber sole for indoor wear, plus a sporty, detachable EVA outsole that can be removed when entering the home. 

It has resonated with consumers concerned about transmitting the coronavirus on their footwear. “We don’t think of ourselves as the COVID shoe, but a lot of people have discovered us because of what’s going on,” said Cruz.

And as a digitally native brand, Muvez also is benefiting from the country’s stay-at-home orders, which has forced consumers to do more shopping and discovery online.

To facilitate growth, the founders recently upgraded their warehouse partner and backend customer support operation. “So now, the entire experience is consistent throughout,” said Cruz.

And plenty of growth is under way. Muvez will add women’s sizes in August, plus introduce two new colorways: an all-white look and a navy style dedicated to the medical community. “It’s blue on blue, monochromatic and there’s a pull tab that reads ‘love recognizes no boundaries,'” said Cruz. “And the insole is lined with a word cloud that corresponds with first responders.”

Muvez plans to donate about 500 of the First Responder shoes to the Hackensack University Medical Center at the end of this month, and organize support from other local businesses. “This is an opportunity to give back, but also provide depth to the company,” said Cruz. “Not everybody watched ‘Shark Tank,’ so this is an opportunity for us to introduce ourselves and show we are small, but we’re powerful in a way and we can coordinate and organize quickly.”

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