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From Architect to Fashion Design Diva


Annie Mohaupt, the owner of Mohop, a made-to-order custom shoe, and accessory company, never imagined while she was studying architecture that she’d own a fashion enterprise. Her fashion-forward offerings are both unique and ingenious, which ties in with her background and field of study.

In 2005, Annie launched Mohop and was a solopreneur until she partnered with Justin Walker in 2012. Justin manages Mohop’s production operations along with assorted other responsibilities. Mohop’s dynamic duo have developed multiple collections of footwear, fashion accessories, and pet accessories, generating over $1.5 million in revenue over the past decade. They’ve recently invested in the community by purchasing a 10,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Rockford.

When you visit Mohop.com, you’ll instantly recognize many of the endless magazines and entities listed which include interviews with Annie or highlight Mohop’s fashionable products. Interestingly enough, this list of magazines does not include “Architectural Digest” or any similar publications. Although, Annie shared, “Many of the materials and processes affiliated with what I learned in school related to interior installations are applicable to creating my custom shoes, and other products.”

The Switch After toiling in the architectural field for seven years, she traded the projects and working environment for something more in line with her passions — working with her hands and creating her own products.

“The footbeds of the shoes are 3D carved on CNC machines from sustainably-sourced American hardwoods and topped with cushioning EVA (a cushioning material very common to footwear),” Annie shared. “The custom uppers of the shoes are laser-cut, which are then glued and/or nailed to the sole, creating a completely custom shoe within a couple of hours.” For a visually appealing demonstration of this process, see their Kickstarter video link located on Mohop’s website.

Her initial experience selling at a craft fair was at first, fantastic when she sold out of product in a short period of time. Unfortunately, all of her newly found customers called the following week to complain that the shoes had fallen apart. In her initial creations, she was concentrating on comfort versus durability. With her next iteration, it took one year, and test-walking the shoes 100 miles, to be sure she’d tackled both of the key features; comfort and durability.

Today, Mohop offers a wide variety of women’s shoes, purses, accessories, and dog collars. In special circumstances, Mohop’s team can even accommodate two different size feet, two different size sole heights, etc.

One vastly unique design aspect, with certain types of Mohop’s shoes, is the variety of choices offered. Customers can select the color of the footbed, heel, interchangeable colored ribbons and sari ties that totally change the look. To even further expand the fashionable result, she features illustrations on the “How to Tie” portion of the website, which puts an additional spin on the custom look. The sari ties are made from recycled materials, which Annie sources from a nonprofit organization in India that support fair-trade wages for women. Her unique shoes have even been featured on the Discovery Network/Science Channel show, “How It’s Made!”

The future is bright for Mohop with Annie, a self-taught manufacturer at the helm. A key element of the company’s success is their ability to be flexible and change. They pay attention to trends and adapt if necessary. All of their processes are designed around flexibility. For example, they mainly use riveting versus sewing since people with sewing expertise are difficult to find. This allows the team to be able to assemble their shoes and accessories during downtime at tradeshows, craft shows or at an Airbnb while traveling, but they are keeping it simple for another reason.

“We envision women, perhaps stay-at-home moms, to be able to assemble our products in their homes and earn a decent part-time wage,” Annie explained. “We mainly source all of our raw materials from suppliers in the U.S. and would prefer to employ U.S. workers–as opposed to how most shoes are manufactured. We now design the products, so assembly requires very little training.”

Lessons Learned “I have a lot more humility than I did in year one. When I started, I was really confident. I have large goals and have the desire to grow a large company, but I’ve learned that it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Annie stated. “We are embracing being proactive versus in the beginning when I was running the company reactively. The tide is turning—we are preparing for the future.”

To learn more about Mohop’s fashionable merchandise, visit their website, www.Mohop.com. To learn more regarding the services and programming offered to assist entrepreneurs, visit www.EIGERlab.org or phone 815.753.2192.

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