From Idea To 40 Professionals In Two Years: How New Footwear and Apparel Company, Stria Sport, Got Its Start

I first came across Stria Sport in the midst of covid. Just a random article about a random shoe company trying to grab a piece of the over 180 billion dollar (billion with a b) athletic footwear market.

It takes incredible hustle, positioning, and a ridiculous amount of determination to not only launch a company in this space, but to stand out against some of the biggest brands in the world with massive distribution systems.

Not so random anymore…

In just two short years, the founders of Stria Sport have been steadily capturing the attention of athletes all aground the globe. With innovative products designed and tested by the founders themselves, a raving community, and over 40 professional from a growing number of sports, it looks like Stria Sport is poised to become a household name in the industry.

Allow me to introduce Co-Founder, Eric Porter…

So, who are you and what’s your business?

Hello – My name is Eric Porter and I’m one of the founders of Stria Sport, a performance Footwear and Apparel company. Our mission was to create the most comfortable and lightweight athletic shoes.

What is your backstory and what inspired you to come up with / pursue this idea?

I am from a north suburb outside of Chicago. I grew up playing sports my entire life and being apart of athletics, I was always noticing brands for footwear and apparel. I played college basketball at Loyola Chicago & Lake Forest College where I graduated in 2018. As a former athlete, I have worn numerous brands for many years. But recently, we’ve found it harder and harder to find a shoe that achieves the level of performance that we want. That is when the idea of Stria was born. Our goal was to create the most comfortable and lightweight shoe at an affordable price but most importantly, perform at a high level.

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product – what was that like?

It was fun but a major learning experience. We spent about 6 months designing the shoe with finalizing the name of the brand as the final step. And then we went into the development aspect for about a year. We went through 9 sample rounds to get it right. It definitely tested my patience as I am very impatient. We had to make updates to each sample round to make sure the performance aspect held up. That was the biggest point of focus was how would the shoe hold up. As a brand, you only get one chance at a first impression. We would also wear test the shoe in pick up games throughout Chicago asking different college and professional athletes to wear and get their opinions. It’s tough your first time making a shoe. The factory was overseas so there is a time difference and a language barrier. But when something matters to you, you find ways to make it work.

Describe launching the company… Where did you start?

Our company is based out of Chicago but we have team members in a couple places throughout the US. The good thing for us was we didn’t have any time lines. As a new brand, we had the luxury to work until we felt it was right and ready. That time just so happened to be during a time of chaos in the world at the end of 2020/beginning of 2021. We went live with our shoes during Covid and it was a scary time that no one had experienced before. But we had worked so hard for a long time that we wanted to share it with the world. Everyone was on social media all the time so we tried to use that to our advantage with spreading news of our launch.

What has worked to attract & retain customers so far?

From the beginning, we have always tried to put ourselves in the consumers shoes. “What would we want to see from a new brand?” We have been able to relate to our audience as our products are made by athletes, for athletes. We used our experiences in athletics to help create the brand. We have done it our way which is the make up of our brands DNA. It also helps that our customers enjoy our products as that has to be the main focus for a start up. Not everyone wants to wear what everyone else wears. Our brand is something different and new and can help you stand out. We just appreciate anyone that gives our shoes a try.

What books, podcasts, or people have been the most influential on your journey?

I think it’s mandatory for anyone interested in footwear to read Shoe Dogs. I read that on my way to our factory overseas. I love any podcast or documentary about entrepreneurs who started their brands/companies. Every time I listen or watch about someone’s story and how it all started, I’m always inspired. The biggest takeaway from all of them is everyone has their own story. There is no correct path you have to take to be successful.

How are things going today and what does the future look like?

Things are going well. We have picked up momentum the last couple of months and are now figuring out where we can continue to grow the brand for the future. Our shoes were designed and developed for basketball, but what we have noticed is our shoe also works for numerous sports. Basketball has been the big focus with over 40 professionals repping Stria but our shoe is becoming increasingly popular amongst Pickleball players with many professionals wearing in tournaments across the US. Our shoe being a high performer makes it work in many sports like Basketball, Pickleball, Volleyball, etc which is very exciting. We plan to build on the success we’ve had in our 2 years and look to continue growing the brand with more products. That will only happen with the amazing support we’ve had from everyone who’s watched our journey.

Any advice for others who are just starting out?

Just go for it. The longer you wait, the longer you are from your dreams coming true. You don’t want to look back on it wondering what it could’ve been.

What’s the best way for people to connect and follow you? Website, Social Profiles, Etc…

The best way to connect with us and stay up to date on new releases and news about the brand is through our socials. We’re on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok using @striasport. And our website to purchase is StriaSport.com.

My mother in law loves to sew.

A few years ago she asked me how to set up an online store.

She wanted to sell fancy throw pillows she was making.

I gave her very basic steps. Enough to get started (I don't know much about ecom).

A few weeks later she showed me her site. It

Everyone wants “yes.”

But they don’t wanna pay the price.

100 Nos is the price of one yes.

You can get as many as yeses as you damn well please as long as you’re willing to pay the price.

I was sad to learn that Charlie Munger died today at age 99.

What a life.

He would likely roll his eyes and argue that none of us should be too surprised, based on the actuarial tables, but we’ve lost one of the 20th century’s greatest investors and businessmen.

Chris and I

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