A Rochester couple hopes Martha Stewart finds their American-made shoes "a good thing" now that their Well Bred shoes is finalist in her annual competition.
Jorge Gomez and Krisa Ryan run Well Bred shoes from their home in Rochester. While working as a designer for a large company, he saw the terrible conditions in Chinese shoe factories. That inspired him to create his own company and contract small American firms to make his shoes with only materials from the U.S.
Well Bred took its first steps two years ago and the pair have been very busy designing and marketing their line of men's shoes. Their shoes are sold through a variety of specialty retailers, including the MartinPatrick3 men's store in Minneapolis. Well Bred shoes can also be purchased directly from their online shop. People attending the Rochester Art Center's upcoming Art Bash will see a pair of Well Bred shoes among the silent auction items.
At the urging of their customers and other companies with similar philosophies, they entered Martha Stewart's American Made Contest. The annual contest chooses the top company in four categories - Style, Food, Crafts and Design.
The couple say they are humbled to be chosen as a finalist in the Style category.
"The great thing about Martha Stewart's American Made contest is that it brings together a lot of people from the close knit group of makers," said Gomez. "A lot of the people in this we know from the trade shows."
Now it is up to online voters and the contest judges, the executive editorial team of Martha Stewart Living magazine. Nine winners will be chosen by the judges and online voting will decide the final winner.
The online voting runs through Oct. 13 on Martha Stewart's website. The winners will be announced on Oct. 17. Part of the prize package includes attending Stewart's American Made Summit on Nov. 7 and Nov. 8.
"The national exposure would be huge for a small company like us," said Ryan.