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Business Profile - Damian Quinn of WAES Footwear

October 14, 2019
Damian Quinn - Co-Founder WAES Footwear

What’s your elevator pitch for WAES? Why should people buy a pair (or pairs)?

WAES sneakers are for those who take their style and ethics seriously. They are comfortable, well-made shoes that are good for your feet and the environment. 

We see the current state of the shoe industry as a big problem, veiled in dirty marketing tactics, excessive profiteering and greenwashing. We’re trying to challenge this and want to see transparency in the industry, beginning with manufacturers. 

From manufacturing to pricing, our whole model is laid bare. But, there’s no compromise in how good our sneakers look or their level of quality. 

Where does the name come from?

The elements that maintain plant and animal life on this planet, without which we will perish. They form the pillars of the brand and areas we wish to support and nurture/harness going forward. Water, Air, Earth, Sun.

How did WAES start? 

Ed (co-founder) and I met in a coffee shop on a random Monday, both a bit shell shocked and pissed off with the world and got chatting about making organic shoes. I think 20 years of thinking/postulating went into the next few months of developing the idea and now here we are. 

I’ve got a background in the shoe industry and Ed in start-ups/marketing. We’ve now also got scientists/brand advocates on board, which is pretty cool.

What companies does WAES admire, role-models does WAES look up to? What or who inspires you?

People breaking the mould, changing the industries which they are part of for the better and bringing love and joy to those around them while doing it! 

From Yvon Chopinard’s ethos on business to Dave Hiut’s ToDo lectures. Spreading a positive word and getting people to talk about real issues as industrialists - honestly, openly and with the ability to take real action.

What do you feel are the easiest lifestyle changes we can all make to reduce our impact on the environment?

Voting with your £€$, is the best way for the person on the street to change things. But realistically it is industry that has to put real solutions out there for us to buy and politicians to legislate. We need to ensure they can’t wriggle out of their societal responsibilities due to backhanding, lobbying and profiteering... Then we see true change that the masses can easily adopt. 

As an example, If you don’t know that your shoes are 90% plastic or there is an alternative purchase option, what should you do? It’s up to us as manufacturers to solve this issue.

What does the future hold for WAES?

We want to create more beautiful products that last, are wholly organic and D2C so people can buy less but buy better.

In time we’ll get better at what we do and even cleaner in our processes. Our ambition is to figure out how to make our products at a fraction of the cost and put soles under the world’s 7 billion pairs of feet, directly or by influence. We want to show that it’s possible to have plastic-free shoes and commercially viable for everyone to own a pair, from Vietnamese fisherman to Jeff Bezos.

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