The other day I was fortunate enough to meet Lance Clark, of Clark Shoes! Anyone who knows anything about footwear has heard of Clarks and
growing up in the 70s, all we wore as kids were Clarks shoes, they were renowned for being good quality, affordable and comfortable and we all loved them! I also have distinct memories of Clarks shoe stores being the best place to get your feet measured, because they always got it right!!
This massive global footwear giant was started by two brothers Cyrus and James Clark in Somerset in 1825 and the company still has its headquarters there today! These days, Clarks has more than 1,000 branded stores and franchises all over the world and generates huge annual profits year upon year.
The Clarks business has always remained in the family, with Lance Clark a member of the 6th generation of Clarks shoe family.
I visited this incredible entrepreneur at his Somerset home, where we discussed a number of things, such as my vision for BODO and Clarks’ Soul of Africa project and many other philanthropic ventures.
For those of you who don’t know, the Soul of Africa project comes from a philosophy that Clarks refer to as ‘Aid through trade’. Through the project, shoe-making skills are taught to workers across several African countries which in turn leads to sustainable employment opportunities. When Soul of Africa footwear is purchased, it helps to generate funds for the Soul of Africa Trust which assists orphans and vulnerable children, many of which have been affected by AIDS. The Trust’s goal is to help provide these children with a better life, providing educational support and a nurturing environment. When Soul of Africa shoes are purchased in a UK store, Clarks themselves make an additional donation to the Trust.
During our meeting, early discussions took place about a possible joint venture between Clarks and BODO. It is very early days yet, but it is a prospect that myself and the BODO team are obviously very excited about.
Clarks are an incredible organisation, one that I have always admired and aspired to emulate, and I would love to establish a firm connection between Clarks and BODO. Working with a company with a reputation and principles like Clarks would go a long way towards helping BODO to achieve its goals to really make a positive impact in this world. I will of course keep you posted with any further developments, so watch this space!