The former head of Yeezy-Adidas just received one of the largest investments for a Black founder this year.
Omar Bailey has over two decades of experience in global product development and manufacturing working as a design engineer. He’s had the opportunity to work alongside many athletes and celebrities, such as Jay-Z, Terry Crews, and Quest Love. He’s also worked with brands like Supreme, New Balance, K-Swiss and more. Eight months ago, Bailey and co-founder Abhishek Som, who is a former Wall Street and private equity executive, founded FCTRY LAb to provide equity in the sneaker industry.
“We offer full end-to-end footwear prototyping and development right here in Los Angeles, which is unheard of in the U.S.,” Bailey said. “That means we do everything from last development, 3D printing, pattern making, injection molding and more all in one place. From there, we also handle production of the designs, and we’re adding sales and marketing teams in the new year.” According to the founders, FCTRY LAb’s overall goal is to disrupt the long held status quo of an industry where big sneaker brands often make the overwhelming majority of profits on the star/creative power of minority designers, athletes and influencers.
The company just secured a total of $6 million in venture capital from a multitude of investors, including the co-founder of Tinder and co-founder of WeWork. With this funding, they will move forward with building the company’s lab in Los Angeles. This U.S. based production site will allow them to decrease product development from 8 to 12 months to 1 to 3 months.
“One of the things that’s most important to me is that I want to show people of color that there are opportunities for us out there,” Bailey said. “Our initial goal was to raise $2 million to $3 million, but we were able to get some incredible investors involved in our company and we surpassed that goal. I think ultimately this company is more than just shoes and products, we are a piece of a much larger story.”
The factory is set to be fully operational by the beginning of January. Congratulations, guys!
Photo: FCTRY Lab