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Design Thinking: Minnetonka

(Image courtesy of Minnetonka. Image depicts the Cally shoe in a variety of colors. The Cally is described as, " One of our most well-liked women’s slippers, available in a variety of colors.

It’s good to be liked. This best-selling slipper features a classic moccasin silhouette and is handmade from genuine soft suede and plush pile lining. Choose from a variety of colors, from classic to modern. With its fun color choices, super-cozy feel and thin rubber sole, the Cally slipper is perfect wherever you need to go. Materials: Soft Suede Leather, Pile Lining, Thin Rubber Cally Sole, and Imported. The shoe runs true to size." Price= $44.95. You can order a pair at )

In Graduate School, one of the buzzwords professors love to discuss is "Design Thinking." Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding (Dam and Siang). Design Thinking enables a company to understand consumer needs to serve their audience better. For this project, I contacted different companies to learn how the organizations apply Design Thinking into their market offerings. I had the opportunity to talk with Katie I., Director of Marketing at Minnetonka, to learn more about the company.

(Image courtesy of Minnetonka. Image depicts the Torrey Boot. This boot is described as," Top off your cool-weather wardrobe with slipper style boots that are both fashionable and comfortable. Crafted from supple suede, a ragg wool exterior and oh-so-cozy pile lining, these outdoor-inspired slipper boots featuring a durable heavily treaded sole and are ready to take you from couch to coffee shop in style. Materials: Fabric Patterns May Vary from Picture: Ragg Wool and Suede Upper, Pile Lining, Removable Contoured Footbed, Heavily Treaded Rubber Sole for Traction, Rawhide Lace, Indoor/Outdoor, and Imported. Shoe runs true to size. Price= $64.95. You can order this shoe at )

1. How is Minnetonka different from other footwear brands?

Minnetonka has been in business for the past seventy-five years. Minnetonka is a fourth-generation family owned and operated business. The Miller family has been an active part of Minnetonka's story since the beginning. The family's involvement with the business is unique because large holding groups typically own footwear companies. Our independence enables us to have the flexibility and adaptability needed to meet market and consumer demands.

(Image of customers at a store courtesy of Minnetonka)

2. How does Minnetonka incorporate its mission and vision into its product offerings?

Our mission and values revolve around doing the right thing for our people, community, and world. This ethos permeates how we operate our business. We pay a living wage for everyone who works for Minnetonka domestically and internationally, respect our customers, and continue to evolve as a company. We are on a journey to become more sustainable. Minnetonka is undergoing our first sustainability audit. As an employee, it's an exciting time to be a part of a company that is actively trying to impact the planet positively. This fall, we are releasing our first line of eco-shoes and are looking forward to creating more eco-products in the future.

(Image courtesy of Minnetonka. Image depicts the Allen. This shoe is described as, " Prepare for relaxation with these men's slippers. Blending berber lining with classic suede and rawhide lace, these slippers pair well with knit joggers or a favorite hoodie. The lightweight padded footbeds make these men's slippers an ideal choice to slip on and stay comfortable in all day long. Materials: Soft Suede, Berber-Lined, Padded Insole, Sierra Indoor/Outdoor Sole, and Imported. This shoe runs true to size." Price= $54.95. You can order this pair of shoes at )

3. How does Minnetonka stay ahead of upcoming trends in the footwear industry?

Sandra, director of product design, has vast experience in the trend predicting realm. Her experience at large and small brands gives Minnetonka a new perspective on how trends impact our products. Minnetonka's design team dives into research reports to ensure that the company is at the forefront of footwear trends while remaining true to the company's ethos. In addition, the team always looks to the sales team, retail customers and consumer feedback to understand our consumer’s and our retailer’s needs

(Image courtesy of Minnetonka)

4. What is the future of the company?

Because we are privately owned, we can be flexible and nimble to adapt to whatever challenges are ahead. Be on the lookout for new styles in our future to match the evolving needs of our consumer. But most importantly, we want to continue to be a positive force as a company by doing right by our people, our community and our world.

(Logo courtesy of Minnetonka)


Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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