The idea for SoleMates began at Columbia Business School. Classmates Becca Brown and Monica Ferguson (both ’07BUS) knew they weren’t the only ones to have wrecked heeled shoes on rough streets like the ones in NYC, or sunken into lawns in their stilettos, so they came up with an idea. SoleMates would be a company dedicated to helping women look and feel better in their shoes, starting with a heel protector.
What started as a side-project as the two returned to Goldman Sachs soon took on a life of its own.
After designing and prototyping the product, SoleMates launched its heel protector into retail in 2012. Smart placement of this thoughtfully designed product helped word of mouth spread. Oprah called it genius. And pitching on Shark Tank got mass retailers to sit up and take notice. Fast forward five years to SoleMates keeping women #WellHeeled with solutions that include fabric protector treatments, blister blocker balm, freshener spray, and more with their products are sold in 4,000 CVS stores across the country.
“We created the high heel protector as a category – new shoe solutions made for women by women in a space that was mostly geared towards the needs of men,” said Brown. “After the heel protector was on the market and we were getting feedback from customers, there was a natural shift to other shoe care products.”
It was a learn-as-you go process, with a lot of work to get products created, patented, manufactured – which the duo did without any previous experience in the field. Now, Brown and Ferguson are focused on meeting their customers’ needs where they are already shopping, plugging into places where women are thinking about their look and feel, head to heel.
Check out more of their products and story here.