When Evan Fript finished up his Master’s degree in finance, he made the natural transition into investment banking. But after a few years on Wall Street his priorities began to shift. In spending money refining his wardrobe, he found himself drawn to a totally new field: Fashion.
“I was looking for an escape from investment banking,” Fript said in an interview for Fortune’s new series, Founder Friday. “Working in an office is soul-crushing. I saw the next two decades [and] what would happen if I stayed in an office doing that sort of work. I wanted to find something I was passionate about.”
Sensing a gap in the fashion market, he and fellow Wall Streeter Ben Early decided to start a reasonably priced high-quality footwear brand for millennial men. They called it Paul Evans and launched in 2013.
Given that they had zero retail experience prior to founding the fashion company, Fript says it took them about a year to do market research and find an Italian factory to produce the shoes. Inspired by brands such as Bonobos and Warby Parker, they decided to keep their product out of big-box retailers and go the direct-to-consumer route instead.
“We never wanted to sell a $1,000 pair of shoes,” he said. “I wanted to sell $300 to $400 pairs of shoes. And the only way to do that at this quality level is to go direct to consumers.”
The company brought in roughly $2 million in revenue last year and is reportedly on track to surpass $2.5 million by the end of 2016. To do that, it plans to stay hyperfocused on its target customer: the 26 to 39-year-old urban male who can afford to spend a few hundred dollars on shoes that look and feel well-made.
“Some guys are still wearing these really ugly square-toed shoes [that are] low-quality,” he says. “Shoes are definitely an investment.”
For more on Fript’s entrepreneurial journey, watch the video above.