Spotlight on Risto Sports

Posted by Nathan Kornish on Thursday 23 Jun 16
How did you come to start Risto Sports?
Risto Sports was created by myself, Coach Ivan Rojas, and my wife, Gwendolyn Sisto, an MIT rocket Scientist that has also competed for Team USA. Risto Sports was founded in 2008 as Botev Sports. In 2010, we changed to Risto Sports. We craft weightlifting shoes and weightlifting equipment with the help of Elite Weightlifters who provide feedback and opinions on the models as well as the materials used in the shoes. I have trained and studied weightlifting around the world for over 30 years. This includes countries behind the Iron Curtain (USSR, Bulgaria, Poland, East Germany) and China. Since then, Gwen and I have worked with some of the best weightlifting coaches in the world including the coaches of Kazakhstan (4 gold medals in London 2012). We released our book, "Kazakhstan Weightlifting System for Elite Athletes" in November 2015 and are now excited to create weightlifting shoes for the upcoming Olympic games. 
 Kickfurther x Risto Sport Inventory
Why is the Risto shoe better than the average lifting shoe?
Our expertise is something that not many other brands offer. I have coached Olympians and world medalists and have built relationships where these experts now help us design models. Their input is key when it comes to designing a functional shoe for the sport. Not only that, we are also the only Weightlifting shoe that still makes wood heel shoes.
 
What's your favorite shoe and why?
All of them, but to name a model specificially that demanded a lot of work and hours of designing was the Tom Platz squat shoe. We created it in collaboration with Tom Platz (the Golden Eagle or the Squat Godfather) which was an enormous honor. 
 
What makes you or your product business unique and how have you used that to your advantage?
We are experts in the sports and we can see the needed elements to improve the performance of the athletes. The materials of every model are top notch with no man made materials. All leather, 100% natural wood, and 100% rubber are used to construct the shoes. Our USA model is hand made in the states. As a company policy, we don't make our goods in Asia. The majority of our shoes are made in the Americas with plans to move production to the USA (a very difficult task). 
 
USA x Risto USA modelRisto x Kickfurther USA Model 2
 
What are your hopes for your product business for the next year?
For 2017, we want to move all of our production of shoes to the USA. Currently, we make only 2 models in the USA and the rest in made in either Ecuador or Colombia. We are proud to say that our entire clothing line is made in the USA as well as our Straps and Wrist Wraps. The Straps and Wrist Wraps are made in our home state, Maine, by American with disabilities.

What is the largest lesson that you’ve learned on your journey as a business owner that you would share?

Knowing not only the product, but the field as whole means that you become a specialist and people will seek not only your product, but your advice as well. Risto x Kickfurther Weightlifting Shoes

An example of this is while designing our Tiburon model, we sought the input of 1980 Olympic champion Daniel Nunez who was coaching the national weightlifting team of Panama. Daniel Nunez recommended me to the National Federation and the Panama Olympic committee to train and coach their elite lifters at the 2015 Toronto Games, the 2015 World Weightlifting Championships in Houston, the 2016 Olympic test event in Rio, the Olympic qualifier in Colombia, and hopefully at the Olympic games Rio 2016. In a similar way, I've worked with Nigerian, Colombian, British, and Guatemalan elite athletes. This all started with providing high performance shoes for these teams or lifters. 

 

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Posted by Nathan Kornish on Thursday 23 Jun 16
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