The concept behind TKEES was to develop a clean, sleek, and upscale skin tone flip flop that would disappear on everyone’s foot; The only flip flop on the market at the time in 2009 was the plastic “shower shoe”. Carly and Jesse built their brand on the pillar of inclusivity, with a multitude of nude shades for everyone.
Carly and Jesse Burnett founded TKEES back in 2009, selling their flip flops to small boutiques through a wholesale model. They experienced steady growth and began building a strong community around the brand before transitioning to a D2C model. Carly remarks that when women see each other wearing TKEES, there is an instant connection between them.
TKEES continued to gain popularity, having been seen on celebrities like Angelina Jolie. Carly and Jesse were repeatedly running into the same problem - they always had more customer demand than supply. Access to funding had been their main challenge from the start. They raised an equity round through venture funding but were unsatisfied with the fact that they had to give up a piece of their company they’d worked so hard to build.
When Carly and Jesse were approached by Clearco, our founding story resonated with them immediately. Jesse felt it made it “really easy and genuine to do business together.” The funding was put to use for marketing expenses, which allowed them to invest their free cash flow into other parts of the business, like developing new product lines and expanding into apparel. They felt Clearco was integral to their growth, as it changed their entire financing cycle, and the free cash flow gave them the ability to simply do more.
Another highlight for the Founders has been Clearco’s inherent understanding of e-commerce companies and the associated crucial metrics. Compared to their previous fundraising experiences, they felt relieved from the headache of explaining their D2C business model to investors. Since first taking Clearco funding in 2019, TKEES has more than doubled in size.
You’ve worked hard to build your business, you should own 100% of it.