I bought my first pair of Birdies in December 2016 and was immediately hooked. The distinctive pony hair black flat with faux shearling lining quickly became my go-to shoe at home and for running errands. They were comfortable and stylish – a rare combination for women’s shoes.
I also believe in co-founder Bianca Gates, who I met when we both worked at Facebook about six years ago. While at Facebook, Bianca coached retail giants such as The Gap, Nordstrom, Williams-Sonoma and adidas on how to market effectively on Facebook and Instagram. She is clearly a force of nature, and I wanted nothing more than to support her entrepreneurial journey. Fast-forward a few years: Bianca and co-founder Marisa Sharkey have created a new footwear category and built Birdies into a beloved brand. This is why we are so thrilled to announce that Norwest is leading Birdies’ $8 million Series A funding round.
Serving the Modern Woman
Birdies has created a new category of footwear by combining the style of a designer flat with the comfort of a sneaker and the softness of a slipper. These versatile shoes are for women on the go who demand comfortable yet stylish footwear, which ties in very nicely with current market demand. According to market research company NPD Group, sneaker/comfort shoe sales increased by 37 percent in 2017, while women’s heel sales were down by 11 percent from 2017 to 2018.
Accessible Luxury While Doing Good
Birdies has developed a loyal fan base, counting Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex as a long-time fan. Starting at $95 a pair, Birdies offers a variety of colors and styles to suit individual tastes from the classic to fashion forward. Customers typically buy multiple pairs of Birdies for themselves as well as gifts for others. Birdies is primarily a direct-to-consumer company that sells through their website but has since expanded its footprint across physical retail with a flagship store on Union Street in San Francisco and a limited wholesale partnership with Nordstrom.
The best part? Birdies founders have a long-standing commitment to social impact. Later this year, they will be launching their “Fly Birdies Fly” giving platform, which will focus on lifting women in need.
Partnering With a Talented Team
Norwest is committed to investing in visionary founders who have big aspirations. We are impressed with how much Bianca and Marisa have accomplished so far with a small team and budget. The company plans to use this round of funding to expand its product line, grow its team, and scale its marketing to make Birdies a household name.
At Norwest, we’ve had our eyes on direct-to-consumer businesses for a while, investing in strong brands such as Kendra Scott, Madison Reed, Casper and Minted. We continue to be passionate about the market and the opportunities to invest in founders who are creating innovative products that connect with today’s modern customers.
Also published on Medium.