Young designer Jesse Howard founded Matiko Footwear in 2003 to fill the niche for high-fashion, funky, comfortable women’s shoes for the 18–35 market. His design education began in a little surf shop in Maui, Hawaii, where he started working “just to get a deal on surf trunks and surfboards, and have a few extra bucks for Hawaiian Shave Ice.” Instead, he learned about the wholesale/retail business, and got hooked on fashion. After starting two small companies selling t-shirts and men’s surfwear, and graduating from business school in Los Angeles, Jesse realized that the best opportunity had been right in front of him all along. “My first thought was to design men’s skate shoes and surf flip-flops, but then it hit me: surfers and skaters buy a few pairs per year, but L.A. women collect more shoes than there are days in a year!” Matiko Footwear’s first collection featured unusual, almost experimental designs. The most memorable was a “crazy-looking,” rubber-soled high heel pump named the “Tang” that flew off the shelves! This funky, sexy collection evolved into Matiko’s signature look, now interpreted in flats, pumps, boots, and comfort shoes. Building on this promising start, Matiko now has hundreds of customers from boutiques to major chains and catalogues, both in the U.S. and overseas. What’s next? More collections of stylish, edgy shoes, of course, but this is just the beginning. Someday soon we’ll introduce a line of related accessories, and eventually a few Matiko boutiques!
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