Sandals are Sold Even in Yukon

Published: June 4th 2010
in Economics » Local

Corinne Lissoos
Pic: Corinne Lissoos

A few weeks ago, 4 Canadian companies won the Israeli Trade Award for promoting trade between the two countries. Solemates Ltd. was one of them. The company has been distributing Naot shoes in Canada for over twenty years.


“It all began with my husband,” says Corinne Lissoos, founder and co-owner of Solemates Inc. “My husband wore Naot sandals and did not want to take them off. He just loved them and thought of taking them back to South Africa, where we originally came from.” 


After leaving South Africa, the Lissoos family came to Israel. As a teacher for children with learning disabilities in her country of origin, she became an English teacher in Israel. “We thought that we will be in Israel forever but it was not easy, I felt that we could do more for Israel outside of Israel,” says Lissoos. A few years later they immigrated to Canada, still thinking of the amazing sandals as a great opportunity.


Marketing Sandals – first steps  


One of the first things they did when the family arrived in Toronto was to join a congregation. The second step was to schedule a meeting with the Canada Israel Chamber of Commerce. “I had a meeting with the CICC; their Director said that he knew a woman that is looking for a business partner,” explains Lissoos. A few days later she got a call from that woman who was looking for a business partner: “It was amazing to find out that she had found our names on the list of new congregants. It was like a cosmic coincidence… we met and decided to each invest $1000 as a start.” They also had something else in common: that they both worked at the same school, Corinne as a teacher and her future partner as a psychometric. Eventually they started selling the sandals in health food stores. “We sat near the front window, every day after work and the store took commission from our sales. This was the first way of getting to the public.”


Summer stores


“The second thing we did was open a store during the summer days only, wherever there was availability we took the place.” The first store was opened on Eglinton Ave. The entire family joined in this effort and even the kids worked on the weekend. Corinne notes that a kid from the Markowitz family bought two pairs and was enthusiastic about the sandals. He brought his friends and finally, his father, Capezio and Davids Shoes founder David Markovich, came to the store to see what his son was talking about. “We tried to sell the sandals to the established retailers but they did not want to take the risk on a new unknown brand. He was the first retailer that ordered 100 pairs. That was in 1991,” recalls Lissoos. Reaching a deal with Capezio was a turning point for the company and the road was paved to expanding its market share. “We had now achieved credibility. Once the other retailers saw that a successful retailer had bought our Israeli product, they were prepared to take a chance on us. Then we found sales reps in Ontario, we went to BC and eventually expanded all over Canada.”


Waterproof Boots made in Israel


Related articles: (naot, solemates, israeli sandals)
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