Joey Marquis, cofounder of the new sustainable footwear company Ponto, has close ties with MiraCosta. Very close ties. “I grew up with MiraCosta College,” he says. “My mother, Gail Baughman, taught biology and biotech there for 26 years. I guess you could say it’s in my blood.”
Starting a footwear company was not part of Marquis’s original plan. After he attended MiraCosta, he headed to the University of California at Berkeley for his BS and MS in mechanical engineering. He then spent years in the Bay Area working in his field. “I liked what I was doing,” he says, “but I had the entrepreneurial bug big time. I was itching to get started with something of my own. I just didn’t know what.”
So Marquis did what made sense to him. He headed back home to MiraCosta. “I started taking business classes. I thought it might help me figure out what I wanted to do.”
Soon he got involved with his friend Aaron Roubitchek’s footwear concept, Ponto. “The skills I was learning in my business classes all lined up with what we were doing at Ponto. Everything just fell into place perfectly.”
Marquis notes that his previous work experience also helped him at the footwear startup, even though shoes and mechanical engineering seem unrelated. “I was familiar with manufacturing, blue prints, and lead times,” he explains. “And I’d traveled to China several times because of work. All of this was helpful to us.”
Ponto, named after a favorite beach in Carlsbad, recently launched a website, which is the primary sales channel. “We hope to get into some surf shops and local stores first and then larger, national stores later. It’s a process,” says Marquis.
Built on a platform of sustainability, Ponto Footwear is committed to conscious consumerism and partners with different nonprofits, like Soles4Souls. “We’ll give you a $25 credit toward your next pair of Ponto shoes if you donate your old pair to Soles4Souls instead of throwing them in the trash and sending them to a landfill,” says Marquis. “We also donate 10 percent of our profits to the Ocean Cleanup Project.”
Marquis is thankful for the unexpected (and unplanned) route that led him back to MiraCosta and to Ponto. “MiraCosta is such a bang for your buck and you can learn so much from the teachers there and through mentorships. I definitely recommend MiraCosta to anyone who’s thinking about college.”