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Quoddy’s CEO Talks Being ‘Made in Maine’ and the Digitally-Native Advantage

Quoddy’s identity is deeply rooted in its Maine heritage, a fact evidenced by its sturdy, hand-sewn footwear and the recent launch of a pair of waterproof boots.

Waterproofing is something that comes naturally to Quoddy. In fact, the company already sells its own brand of organic waterproofer alongside its collection of classic moccasins, boots and driving shoes.

According to Quoddy President and CEO John Andreliunas, it made good sense for the brand to come out with silhouettes designed from the ground up to be used in wet conditions. After all, he notes, “Maine actually has more coastline than California.”

“We’ve never done waterproof [footwear] before,” Andreliunas told Sourcing Journal. “We have to deal with weather all the time where we live, so it’s a natural progression for us. We’ve developed two new platforms for the waterproof line, one is based on a molded shell product and one is based on waterproof construction with a seam-sealed bootie.”

The shoe with the molded shell, Quoddy’s Field Boot, is similar to the duck boots made by L.L. Bean in Freeport, ME, just south of Quoddy’s headquarters in Lewiston—a fact of which Andreliunas is well aware. The way his brand differentiates, he said, is to make sure every product comes hand-stitched, made from premium components and complete with the added ‘Quoddy touch.’

An Interview with John Andreliunas, President
Quoddy’s waterproof Field Boot, featuring a rubber, high-traction sole made in collaboration with Sperry. Quoddy

“We always try to add elements of our construction techniques and our visual language to the product because we’re not logo heavy on our products,” Andresliunas explained. “Our customers buy it for themselves and not for the badge.”

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As consumers focus more on how a product is made rather than solely what it looks or feels like, Andreliunas feels Quoddy is positioned well for a future where that kind of consumer accounts for the lion’s share of disposable spending. Quoddy shoes are built to last, he said, and aren’t vulnerable to changing trends in the same way a sneaker brand might be.

This is all assisted, of course, by the fact that Quoddy runs a tidy little business resoling its own shoes for customers at its factory in Maine. Ensuring that, for as long as the brand exists, fans can keep their favorite pair of Quoddys indefinitely.

“I like to think that’s our version of sustainability, that it never really does wear out,” Andreliunas said. “That you don’t wear a product out and toss it away but you get it refurbished and resoled. Hopefully, you keep it by the back door for the rest of your life. That’s the goal. We have folks who are on their fifth and sixth sole on some products.”

An Interview with John Andreliunas, President
Every stitch of each Quoddy shoe is hand sewn at the brand’s Lewiston, ME factory. Quoddy

Quoddy has taken some of its inspiration from the Passamaquoddy, a Native American tribe and the brand’s namesake, and their hand-sewn canoes made from meticulously weaved birchwood. The tribe’s sewing prowess is something Andreliunas said Quoddy tries to replicate in every handsewn stitch it produces.

Despite the fact that Quoddy pulls so heavily from its region of origin, it is surprisingly popular, internationally. The company regularly ships to 85 different countries.

“There’s always a market for well-made, well-considered product,” he said. “The beauty of being a direct-to-consumer brand is you can find those customers. Sometimes you wonder how they find you.”

Today, the pendulum is swinging back toward the kind of footwear Quoddy makes after years of heavy focus on sneakers. As people start to wear sneakers everywhere, he said, they will start to look for footwear with more specific purposes.

“When [the pendulum] swings toward more weekend and holiday and outdoor type things, when you’re getting away from your hectic life, that’s when products like ours more come to the fore,” Andreliunas said. “We don’t wear a lot of white sneakers in Maine when we are out on the lakes and the oceans.”