Identical twins Shane and Shawn Ward truly understand the art of making style look and feel good. After spending time designing shoes for a number of athletic merchandisers, the brothers set out to create their own brand name. The two were born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and as early as the fourth grade, their mother moved them and their 5 siblings to Detroit, Michigan.
At 12, Shane and Shawn began caddying in Detroit at private golf clubs for the likes of the Detroit Pistons and Detroit Redwings. By the time they were ready for college, they had each earned full, four- year caddy scholarships to the University of Michigan. While Shawn focused on a career in Mechanical Engineering, working with Chrysler, Shane studied Industrial Design and interned at General Motors. Later, they each landed jobs in New York City, where they have lived for the past eight years, Shawn working as a day trader on the NASDAQ stock exchange and Shane designing for AND1. Though seemingly on different paths, the two eventually joined to design shoes for Puma, Lugz, Adidas and Converse through their freelance company SW2Design. After gaining menial credit for their designs, they set out to go into business for themselves. By fusing Detroit and New York together, Shane and Shawn launched Detny footwear in 2003.
At 34, unlike other shoe designers, these brothers have completed the task of making the stride from the courses to the office very simple. “Our shoe is created for the modern-day jetsetter, it’s all about designer comfort for people on the move,” says Shawn. By their third year, they reached the million dollar mark and have had quite a resume to follow. From being featured in Black Enterprise, Unwrapping Macy’s, Ebony, O Magazine, People, CNBC’s the Big Idea, and distributing their shoes nationwide and overseas, these guys are about their business. Both Shane and Shawn contend that their success stems from solid grounding and strategic planning. When asked about the most challenging thing as young businessmen, they both explained that having enough funding to elevate a company to the next level and getting the product out can be a bit difficult. In addition, they each left me with thoughts of enlightenment that all aspiring entrepreneurs should make note of. Shawn says, “Write a very thorough business plan to give you a better understanding of how much money you’ll need.” He explained that this is essential because you should always save double the amount you need in order to have enough money to start any business. “You should call up about 10 to 15 people and tell them your plan and see of they can be your mentor,” says Shane.
Presently they are dedicated to building Detny into a household name, “We’re going to start introducing handbags, belts, and t-shirts, because we’re trying to make it a lifestyle brand,” says Shane. Together they acknowledge their mother as one of their biggest motivators. They are driven by her love and take time out to visit her in Detroit about eight times a year. If you’re every in New York City, check out the Detny display at Macy’s Herald Square. Look for Detny footwear at your local Nordstrom’s, DSW, and Zappos.com. For more information about the brothers and Detny footwear visit www.shaneandshawn.com.