Kona firm expands, but recoils at reptilian references
Kona-based footwear business Shaka Shoes Inc. has inked a three-year agreement with Utah-based CirTran Corp., an international manufacturer that will also market and distribute its products.
The family business had previously handled each facet on its own, getting its product to retailers around the world in countries such as France, South Africa, Australia and Japan, where some 300 stores carry the footwear. It also sells online via www.shakagear.com.
Now, it is both Shaka Shoes' and CirTran's expectation that the products' market and market share, will increase.
Shaka Shoes, run by a father, two sons, a son-in-law and their wives, previously had a different arrangement for manufacturing in China.
"They will continue to be manufactured in China," said the dad, Clifton Walters, chief executive officer of Shaka Shoes.
Given recent woes associated with many China-made products, Walters said, "We go through federal testing. Everything that we have done and that CirTran (makes) is certified. Everything is on the up-and-up."
Shaka Shoes offers two types of slippers and familiar sling-back clogs, made from ethylene vinyl acetate, or EVA. Some might see the clogs as being among many Crocs knock-offs.
"That's a fair assessment," said Walters, but adds that Crocs wasn't the first to make such clogs. They became the best-known because their marketing "was the best on the scene."
Before Shaka Shoes, Clan Walters "helped develop Crocs (sales) in Hawaii," as it had the rights for the Big Island and Maui.
"We learned from that and moved on to other things, other businesses and now we're back to shoes. Our goal is to capture a part of that EVA market. That's where we're headed."
"Now if you'll stop swearing at me," Walters chuckled, referring to your columnist's use of the competition's name.
Many cheaper knock-offs are sold by discount retailers, but Shaka Shoes sell for around $30, as do, well, you know.
Prices were not posted on the company's Web site yesterday, as the CirTran deal has its e-commerce functions being rebuilt.
Shaka Shoes also sells a shoe-cleaning product and indicates a backpack is coming soon. So is a line of "comfort wear clothing" that will also be manufactured by CirTran, Walters said.
Clifton, originally from Lake Charles, Louisiana, his sons Brett and Trent, son-in-law Seth Gambee and the women in their lives have lived in Kona for about 5 years and started the business three years ago. About half of his ten grandchildren have been born in Hawaii, and the family is here to stay, Walters said.
"You couldn't drag me back ... to anywhere on the mainland."
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com