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Track to Tarmac

Written by: Stella Polyzoidou

Sneaker Soles and Dress Shoe Goals, The Schneider's Shoe Venture Unveiled

Imagine dress shoes so comfortable that they rival your favorite sneakers. That’s the vision that the co-founders of Wolf & Shepherd—Justin and Hope Schneider—had when they embarked on a journey to transform the shoes we know and wear. Keep reading to learn how the dynamic duo managed to take this business from nothing to earning millions, one step at a time.

From his days as a decathlete to a pioneer in the footwear industry, Justin’s story is nothing short of inspiring. “Hope and I first met at a track meeting during our college days. She was a dedicated heptathlete, while I represented the Catholic spirit of the University of Notre Dame. Our shared love for sports and an active lifestyle laid the foundation for our creative partnership,” he reminisces. This meeting of minds ignited a spark of inspiration that would revolutionize the footwear industry. With the goal of seamlessly blending sportswear and fashion, the Schneiders embarked on a transformative journey together. “We’ve always believed in the power of combining sportswear with style,” Justin shared.

The Birth of the Idea

The Schneiders’ journey from college athletes to footwear innovators is a testament to their shared determination and resilience. After college, Justin pursued a career in footwear design, starting with Adidas and later moving to New Balance. Recalling his early days at Adidas, Justin vividly describes his first project: a modular track spike for multi-event athletes. But it was a conversation with his design director that truly shaped his approach to design.

“I remember my design director asking me, ‘What does every athlete want?'” Justin recounts. “And I said, ‘Well, they want lightweight, comfortable shoes with support.’ But he stopped me and said, ‘No, every athlete wants to win. That’s their purpose.'” It was this pivotal moment that inspired Justin to rethink his approach to design. “He challenged me to think about how we could inspire athletes to win with our shoes, and that’s a philosophy that I’ve carried with me ever since,” he explained.

The inspiration behind Wolf & Shepherd’s name and philosophy is as unique as the brand itself. Justin and Hope, both former athletes, found themselves drawn to the characteristics of a wolf and a shepherd. The wolf embodies ambition, drive, and fearlessness, while the shepherd represents guidance and support. “It’s about empowering individuals to perform at their best, whether they’re on the track, in the office, or out on the town. And that’s the ethos that drives everything we do at Wolf & Shepherd,” Justin added.

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