Minnesota shoe company a Martha Stewart award finalist


There's the well-known "Oprah Effect," and the even-more-popular "Colbert Bump."

But Martha Stewart is no slouch herself when it comes to sales and branding. And a Rochester small business duo hopes the style maven can help propel their company to greater heights.

Well Bred is a men's shoe company, started by Jorge Gomez and Krisa Ryan about two years ago and run from the duo's home in Rochester, the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports.

Now, their small business is a finalist in the style category for Stewart's American Made awards competition.

"The national exposure would be huge for a small company like us," Ryan told the Post Bulletin.

The American Made program aims to spotlight, support and celebrate local handmade goods, the contest website says.

A combination of online voting and input from the Martha Stewart Living magazine editorial team will help narrow down the finalists. Each of the 10 winners – to be announced Oct. 17 – will receive $10,000 for the business, a trip for two to New York, a spot on the Martha Stewart American Made market, and additional prizes.

Online voting opened up Monday and had racked up 218,100 by Friday morning. Well Bred had about 1,100 votes as of that same time, with 25 more days to go (until Oct. 13).

According to Well Bred's contest page, the idea for a shoe company using nearly all American-made products came after seeing overseas show factories.

"Once I saw the working and living conditions in some of the factories I thought to myself, 'I can do better,'" the page says. "I wanted to start a company that had an honest approach to design and manufacturing that champions quality not only in the final product, but in all stages of the product design, sourcing, manufacturing and distribution."

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