Sole Searching

by | Jul 1, 2021 | Materials, People, Products

How an industry boot designer found his niche.

Shawn Langdon loved the outdoors since childhood.

He and his cousin Dave, nicknamed Kujo, were often found outside together.

As an adult, Shawn worked in the lawn and garden industry and saw the latest products in the marketplace. What he didn’t see though, a proper workshoe for landscapers.

“I always hated wearing heavy boots, and sneakers weren’t practical for the mud and I’d always slip on hills,” Shawn remembers. “I started researching footwear designers but couldn’t find what I was looking for. So I decided to design my own.”

Shawn spent two years researching various designs and manufacturing options.

He launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2017 and named his company “Kujo Yardwear” after his late beloved cousin.

“I interviewed a lot of landscapers and lawn care operators to find out what they wanted in a shoe,” he says. “We started with the idea of a hybrid boot, something that feels like a Nike but can handle all the functions of mowing, walking miles every day and working hard on your feet. We knew we needed comfort with an aggressive grip and water resistance, and some landscapers needed a safety toe especially when hardscaping.”

Shawn recruited his sister Kelsey and her husband Craig to the company. They tried six different samples before getting everything right.

“That stage was pretty exciting,” says Shawn. “We’d draw different designs and I’d run the colors by my kids. My son and daughter have had fun with it.”

Then in 2018, they launched their Kujo Yard Shoe prototype at the GIE EXPO in Kentucky.

“We couldn’t believe the reaction,” Shawn says. “We got so much traffic in our booth—landscapers were calling them game-changing.”   

Since launching, the company took off.

Profits increased 50 percent from 2018 to 2019, then doubled from 2019-2020.

Most of Kujo’s business is internet retail, but the shoes are available at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Home Depot and power equipment dealers. The team shipped to thousands of customers in all 50 states last year.

To date, Shawn has made five improvements to the original model. Late last year, they launched their X1 Landscape Boot in addition to the Kujo Yard Shoe. Shawn works from his home in North Carolina, still with Kelsey and Craig. He enjoys running a small business and keeping his hands in everything.

“I personally read every review,” says Shawn. “We want to make sure we get it right.” 

Kujo is now in the early stages of developing socks and pants, that are both lightweight and breathable as well as durable to protect landscapers from heat, weather and mosquitos. 

As far as advice for other entrepreneurs with a big idea, Shawn says never settle. 

“It’s important to visualize your perfect life,” he says. “If you could do anything every day what would that be? What gets you excited? Everyone is so busy we don’t stop to think about what really makes us happy.”

Shawn, surrounded by family with a successful product, has found his happiness. 

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