Two years ago, Brown’s Shoe Fit Co.’s desperation to stock enough HeyDude shoes to meet the demand reached frenzied levels. The buyers for the 73-store Midwestern chain would get a status report in the morning and try to place a large order. “We would get one-fourth or one-half of what we put in for,” says Adam Smith, senior manager for Brown’s and a former store manager in Jacksonville, Illinois. “The whole nation was trying to get them.”
HeyDude founder Alessandro Rosano, an Italian entrepreneur living in Hong Kong, had tried his hand at other businesses before. But with HeyDude, which makes comfortable slip-on loafers with a so-ugly-they’re-cute look, he hit the jackpot. With minimal investment and almost no marketing, revenue took off, reaching $581 million in 2021, with net profit of $175 million. That December, Rosano agreed to sell the brand to Crocs, the $6.2 billion (market cap) firm whose own ugly-cute rubber clogs are a worldwide phenomenon, for $2.5 billion in cash and stock.