Mark Albert Boots: An Interview with Founder Mark Barbera
Mark Albert Boots, an independent footwear brand based in Somerset, PA, offers quality boots that won’t break your bank.
When Mark Barbera couldn’t find the boots he was looking for, he decided to design his own. “Like many entrepreneurs, I was just trying to find a product that met my demands, and I couldn’t find one on the market. I was looking for a certain style of boot back in college. I didn’t have $400 to spend, but I also didn’t want to buy something cheap,” says Mark.
Mark visited the local factory, who said they would entertain the idea, so long as he met a minimum purchase order. He then used Kickstarter, a public benefit corporation whose mission is to “help bring products to life,” to raise those initial funds.
Mark then traveled to a marketplace in Brooklyn, where he sold 25 pairs of boots in one weekend. “That was when I thought, ‘Wow, this could actually be something,’” says Mark. “I created a lot more designs, and got very involved with the sourcing and the factory.” Mark even began working for the factory by joining their Design and Product Development team.
It wasn’t until later that Mark learned his great grandfather, a master shoemaker from Italy, had pitched in at the very same boot factory. The factory has been manufacturing footwear since 1948, and starting working with Mark Albert Boots back in 2016.
“All of our boots have a focus on the highest quality and the longest wearing value,” says Mark. We’re also a direct-to-consumer brand, meaning our prices are considerably lower than our direct competitors who sell through retail channels.”
Mark Albert Boots is a timeless and reliable brand. “I’m using these styles the factory has developed over the past 50 years. I didn’t come up with a new shape, but I’m finding really interesting leathers and sourcing them from all over the world,” says Mark. “I’m taking an outdated style and refreshing it.”
Mark Albert Boots are sold all over the world, and they are especially popular in European countries.
The pandemic has caused the factory to temporarily shut down, but Mark is hoping to get back to work in the coming weeks. “We’re unable to ship boots right now, because we’re unable to produce them. We’re not an in-stock company. We’re a made-to-order company, which means we don’t have inventory we’re just sitting on.”
Mark is very passionate about supporting local businesses, as they’re an integral part of the local economy. “When you buy a pair of boots from our factory you’re not just supporting Mark Albert. You’re supporting 54 jobs of people right here in our community. These people are shopping at the same stores that we are. They’re going to the same churches and schools. It really does trickle down.”
Check out Mark Albert Boots by visiting their website.
Follow them on Facebook and Instagram @markalbertboots.