Keen's firm place in the shoe industry first shocked its founder, Martin Keen. Merely hoping for a modest growth in its first three years, Keen’s sales skyrocketed. Keen described his achievements as going “beyond his wildest dreams.”
Martin Keen, who was a competitive sailor, explained his desire for a comfortable boat shoe. His love for sandals, and his envy for a more sandal like boat shoe drove him to design a revolutionary shoe. With many years of experience in the shoe industry working at renowned footwear companies such as Saucony and Timberland, Keen began developing a new type of shoe.
Keen felt the push he needed to start his own company post 9/11. The horrifying events that occurred that day resulted in nearly $2 trillion of losses for the United States. As a result, companies, in an attempt to survive the economic apocalypse, began laying people off. One such company, Tommy Hilfiger, did just that with its employees, one of whom was Martin Keen.
His next move was teaming up with a partner who had factory relationships. He and his partner designed their first shoe, “the Jamestown," a sandal with a rubber toe guard.
Keen had always disapproved of big shoe companies who put more money and time into marketing rather than into designing comfortable shoes. Keen was different; he worried about the little things. When designing his own shoe, he knew it was crucial the mold fit 90 percent of the world’s inhabitants.
His vision went beyond making innovative designs. Keen enforced the use of recyclable material for packaging. In addition, he required his employees to do community service-paid, of course.
In 2005, the company was doing extremely well. As a result, Martin and his partner decided to donate their $1 million marketing budget to people in need, such as the victims of the devastating Hurricane Katrina.
Keen may not have many employees or state of the art facilities, but its founder, along with forty employees have shown that consumers like their products and that they wish to buy more. Keen Footwear can be found in 1,800 stores throughout the United States and in 70 countries around the world. With over 700 various models for both men, women, and children, Keen Footwear will continue to be a popular brand for many years to come.