Q+A with Karl Moehring, CEO of Washington Shoe Company
Karl is a Seattle native who took the helm of the company in October 2015. Since then, Karl has made it a top priority to enhance the culture of the company and form a better environment for the employees. Washington Shoe Company houses three brands: Chooka, Western Chief, and Staheekum. Western Chief has been providing family footwear options since 1891. With the rain heading our way this week, it’s perfect timing to check out Chooka’s stylish and affordable fall fashion line.
Seattleite: We’d love to hear a little bit more about your journey. What were you doing before becoming CEO in 2015?
Karl: I graduated from Washington State University in 2002. I initially joined the company after graduating as a controller. I saw joining the team as an opportunity to contribute to and help my family’s longtime business. I quickly realized I love the cycles of retail and the process of taking an idea and turning it into a product people love so I decided to stay and eventually became CFO and now CEO.
Washington Shoe Company was founded in 1891 and has been in your family since 1911. Did you always know you were going to be a part of the family business someday?
Quite the opposite. Growing up I was tech-focused and envisioned working with computers. The .com bubble hit and the rest is history.
Western Chief is a household name for rain boots for those of us that grew up in Seattle. Can you tell us more about Chooka and Staheekum?
Chooka is our lifestyle brand of rubber-based shoes and boots for women. Chooka fuses together fashion and function for the modern woman who doesn’t want to sacrifice either. Staheekum is our line of sheepskin slippers for men and women; they are designed with comfort and relaxation in mind.
What’s your favorite pair that you own and why?
My favorite is our Western Chief men’s neoprene ankle boots. They are waterproof with memory foam, making them super comfortable. They have a Vibram outsole, and I wear them in the yard and to Seahawks games.
How do you like to spend your time outside of work?
As a diehard Seahawks fan, I love spending my Sundays at CenturyLink Field. Outside of that, I collect wine from our state’s amazing wineries (especially syrahs and cabernets from Walla Walla) and use gardening and landscaping as forms of meditation.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Seattle?
Lloyd Martin in Queen Anne. The menu changes daily and the people are great.