In 2017, Chloe Marie Songer and Stuart Ahlum founded Thousand Fell with a singular vision: to create a more sustainable vision for footwear. Their journey began in China, where the two worked and witnessed the broken clothing production system firsthand. Problems abounded; from product design and material sourcing to manufacturing and delivery. For them, the most poignant issue was post-use waste — the typical white sneaker spends up to 100 years languishing in landfill once it has worn, scuffed, or simply outlived its season.
So Thousand Fell set out to champion the circular economy by integrating a fully transparent recycling program called SuperCircle. Their new age footwear manufacturing and sustainable material development follow circular design principles, allowing sneakers to be disassembled and repurposed. Thousand Fell sneakers have a bioleather fabric made from corn waste components and structural details derived from coconut husk and recycled plastic bottles.The company also closes the loop by recycling used shoes for a $20 rebate making it easier than ever to avoid a trip to the landfill
Still, a grand vision isn’t enough to break through in the crowded footwear market. Thousand Fell needed to get its name out there, but beyond awareness, they needed a runway to tell the brand story. Its simple product line wouldn’t drive distinction with looks alone, so Thousand Fell needed to incentivize customers to become evangelists.
Cost per click
A lean team with a big dream
What better way to jump-start word of mouth than to increase exposure through different channels? Thousand Fell covered the entire digital gamut, advertising on Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, and Pinterest. This strategy served them well, since their target audience of Gen Z and Millennial consumers spends plenty of time on social media. But as for all DTC brands, testing and diversification was the name of the game.
“We’re a five-person marketing team,” Charlie Rubin, Thousand Fell’s Head of Growth and Performance shared. “Our size makes us agile, but it also means we need to invest where it counts and be discerning about where we spend our time and energy.”
Meanwhile, the brand encountered a lot of fluctuations and headwinds. Channels that had previously delivered value often became saturated or costly, due to increased competition. Driving consistent growth would be impossible unless Thousand Fell diversified to channels outside of the mainstream. Staying below their target cost-per-acquisition would also mean they’d need to find a way to guarantee their ad dollars were well spent.
“Mainstream channels had become crowded and inconsistent in terms of ROAS. We were looking for solutions that could give us a competitive edge while making the most of our budget.”
- Charlie Rubin, Head of Growth & Performance at Thousand Fell