Wharton graduate Joe Ammon was in the early stages of developing a sneaker for healthcare professionals when a chance encounter with Stuart Weitzman changed the direction of his design.
“I went to see him speak at Penn and, afterward, told him my idea,” says Ammon, who came up with the concept for his Philly-based brand Clove (goclove.com) after watching his wife struggle with finding comfortable kicks to weather her 12-hour shifts. Weitzman was so intrigued that he met with Ammon alone a few weeks later and, after reviewing the sketches, suggested he change the sneaker’s construction entirely.
Armed with a new look, and with Chief Brand Officer Jordyn Amoroso by his side, Ammon went to the frontlines for product feedback, poring over surveys from nurses and doctors and running a trial for the original prototype with a team of nurses at Penn Medicine. Healthcare influencers weighed in on colorways and product names, like the NICU-inspired Pink Up.
“We would DM influencers to get their ideas,” says Amoroso, who worked for fashion brands like Wildfox and Anthropologie before joining Clove. “Our ability to be nimble and take that feedback loop was very optimal in creating a product people would respond to.”
After nearly two years in development, Clove launched its online store last November. Available in men’s and women’s sizes, the sneakers feature a seamless, slip-on design; water-repellent, stain-resistant fabric; and each box is filled with swag like pens and badge reels.
As for the name, that was all thanks to Ammon’s wife, Tamara. “In medicine, you have to write a c-bar to say ‘with’ because it’s Latin. The conversation came back up when we were naming the company, and she thought of Clove for “with love.” It has a second meaning that only healthcare pros would get along with a real message—with love.”