As the overseer of MyJoys, the custom-design shoe initiative offered by FootJoy, Rita Lepage has pretty much seen it all.
Allow consumers to pick colors and design their own shoes, and creations that FootJoy’s professional designers never could have imagined – or probably would want – come to life.
At the 2009 Presidents Cup at Harding Park in San Francisco, Lepage witnessed golfers’ creativity in person. FootJoy had set up a jumbo monitor at a work station where fans in attendance could make magic. One man’s footwear vision involved a lime-green base, lime-green crocodile leather and lime-green patent accents.
“We’ve seen some really funky shoes. . .” says Lepage, MyJoys’ marketing manager. “But he thought they were the coolest ever.”
That’s the beauty of MyJoys: Golfers essentially can build whatever they want.
The program allows consumers to customize 20 FootJoy models, and they can select from among 42 leathers, including prints, patents and color varieties. Counting all of the style, color and material options, MyJoys offers more than 500,000 combinations, according to Lepage.
The program drew the allegiance of baseball fans when it negotiated a licensing deal with Major League Baseball, giving MyJoys access to team logos. Similar agreements enable proud alumni and fans of 62 colleges to show off their school colors and insignias on their shoes.
The company doesn’t disclose MyJoys’ sales volume, but Lepage says its factory in Asia has the capacity to produce 500 to 600 pairs per day. In most cases, custom shoes are made and shipped within five days.
FootJoy executives, however, hardly had an inkling that the program would become so popular. They launched MyJoys in 2004 as an experiment, and style options then were limited just to men’s and women’s DryJoys.
“And all you could (customize) was the saddle and the base, and personalize with your name on it,” Lepage recalls. “It wasn’t like people were running to MyJoys.com.”
But FootJoy officials sensed the demand for personalization because pro shops couldn’t stock a wide variety of shoes, not even counting the array of color choices. Furthermore, it’s not at all uncommon for an individual to have one foot that differs slightly in size or width from the other. The opportunity to order uneven sizes meant unparalleled comfort for many.
“We found out all these little things about consumers’ wants and needs,” Lepage says. As the program expanded to markets around the world, such specialization became even more coveted because it addressed physiological differences among a global population. In men’s options, for example, MyJoys can accommodate golfers with feet that range in size from 4, extra narrow to 17, extra, extra wide.
FootJoy also has piqued consumers’ interest with unique offerings. To commemorate the 2012 Masters, the company made available a limited-edition, green sting-ray printed leather to make 200 pairs of the themed footwear. Ordering the Masters shoe has become somewhat of a tradition among avid MyJoys consumers, who’ve become devotees since 2008 when Zach Johnson donned a pair made of green caiman alligator printed leather.
Several other PGA Tour players have made MyJoys a staple in their wardrobes. Among the most notable, perhaps, is Bubba Watson, who won this year’s Masters wearing white and fuchsia-wave MyJoys.
After accommodating tour players and witnessing countless consumer requests from around the world, there’s little that surprises Lepage anymore. Still, she has been touched by personal tributes, like when a father stitches his daughters’ names on his shoes or a son adorns a MyJoys with a pink ribbon in memory of his mother.
She continues to watch “the ticker” at myjoy.com – which scrolls images of real orders as they’re placed – to see what consumers will concoct next. She’s left scratching her head as imaginations run wild, and sometimes, when they don’t.
Says Lepage: “I’ll see an all-white shoe, and I think, ‘Seriously?’ ”
As perplexing a choice as it may seem, Lepage appreciates the concept of individuality. After all, that’s why it’s called MyJoys.