BUFORD — Okabashi Brands Inc., a third-generation family-owned and woman-led shoe company, will renovate its 100,000-square-foot facility, creating approximately 340 new jobs and $20 million in capital investment over the next five years.
The facility, at 4823 Roy Carlson Boulevard in Buford, will accommodate new manufacturing lines, increasing production by 100%.
“Okabashi Brand’s commitment to our community and its people is one that dates back to the 1980s when my grandfather chose to bring his footwear manufacturing background to Georgia,” said Okabashi Brands Inc. Chief Executive Officer Sara Irvani. “The support from our community has fostered our growth and has allowed us to continue producing quality American-made footwear. We are thrilled to be contributing to the local economy through this expansion.”
Comprising 1% of footwear manufacturers who remain in the United States, Okabashi Brands Inc. has sold more than 35 million pairs of shoes since 1984.
“Okabashi Brands reflects the true spirit of Georgia business: innovative products, hardworking and skilled team and unwavering sense of community,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “Okabashi not only stayed open for business during the pandemic, but they also continued to grow and donated thousands of shoes to frontline workers. We’re proud Okabashi calls the Peach State home, and we look forward to their continued growth.”
With a commitment to community, Okabashi Brands Inc. has donated more than 100,000 pairs of shoes for disaster survivors, frontline workers and veterans worldwide. They have also partnered with Soles4Souls, a nonprofit that distributes donated clothing and shoes to disaster survivors and micro-entrepreneurs trying to escape poverty, for more than 10 years.
“Okabashi Brands epitomizes the Gwinnett Standard, excelling in integrity, service and stewardship,” said Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson. “We appreciate their commitment to philanthropy, sustainability and most importantly, supporting our vibrant community.”
As an ecofriendly company, Okabashi Brands Inc. uses bio-based BPA-, latex-, phthalate and rubber-free material with 45% soy by weight and closed-loop manufacturing, resulting in 100% recyclable shoes. Their American-made material and manufacturing process saves approximately 100 tons of scrap material from filling landfills and 134,000 gallons of fuel on overseas transportation every year. They also offer a recycling program for their customers, offering a 15% coupon to those who return their worn shoes.
“Okabashi Brands shares our values for community engagement and environmental stewardship,” said City of Buford Manager Bryan Kerlin. “Their growth will continue to make the City of Buford a desirable place to live and do business.”
Partnership Gwinnett Senior Director of Economic Development Deven Cason managed the project in collaboration with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Georgia Quick Start, Metro Atlanta Chamber and Georgia Power. Okabashi Brands Inc. recently received the Corporate Citizen Award for their community involvement, educational partnerships and workforce development at the Partnership Gwinnett Movers and Makers: Manufacturing and Supply Chain Awards in April. They also won the Medium Manufacturer of the Year Award in 2018.
“We’re grateful to help this innovative business expand in Gwinnett County,” Cason said. “Okabashi Brands has become a unique yet successful leader due to their unwavering values.”
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