For most young adults, college is the environment where Darwinian adaptation skills are put to the test. There’s a constant come and go of trends in the mission to fit in, or camouflage ourselves among peers. Still, we want to stand out.
Auburn students McKenzie Strawn and Doug Sears have managed to achieve this paradox with a pair of Clay + Bros sandals. Strawn and Sears knew it would be a shoe that would appeal to their peers. So, they arranged for Atlanta based company owner Clay Reeves to pay a visit to Auburn’s Chi-O chapter room on Sept. 5.
“Being an apparel merchandising major, I’ve learned to appreciate the story behind a product,” Strawn said. “I get excited when I see a product represent that aesthetic in such a personal way like a pair of Clays do.”
The sandals may look simple, but quality is not taken for granted. The sole material is made out of Vibram rubber, which is also used by major companies like New Balance and Chacos. Then the straps are 550-parachutecord. It’s the same type of cord that the U.S. military trusts for their missions. It’s safe to say that they can withstand extreme conditions, including that upper level finance class.
“I first saw [the sandals] on McKenzie’s Instagram,” Sears said. “So many products today are overdone, so it’s just refreshing to see a simple, high-quality product.”
The students interested in trying on a pair of sandals were presented with an intimate fitting experience.
“Clay literally builds the sandal around your foot,” Strawn said. “It’s completely customized from your sizing preference to the color of the cord to the way you tie them.”
Reeves began with a standard template cut from a sheet of Vibram rubber, which students used to determine their exact size. Then the toughest step was when students were confronted with the color preferences. Once laced through the sole, the complexity of the shoe is up to the user.
“I never tie mine the same way twice,” Strawn said. “I’m pretty sure both sandals are laced differently as we speak.”
Even as the Clay + Bros crew was packing up the cars, another student stopped Strawn to ask where she got her shoes.
“Clay is so amped about it that it’s hard not to match his energy,” Sears said. “People take notice because they look different and he knows how to brand his product. He’s not trying to be TOMS or Chacos.”
Currently, Sears is working with Reeves to launch the Clay + Bros’s website in October. Strawn continues to help with social media and promotionals as the company continues to expand.
“It’s exciting to be apart of this startup and see Clay’s passions grow,”
Sears said. “His passion is contagious.”