After finishing her first pair of shoes in May 2009, she received many inquiries from family and friends wanting their own pair of hand-painted shoes. She has since expanded into painting her own line of signature looks. These looks are designed to be fashion staples in your wardrobe. She wants you to be able to wear them from work to a night out on the town or to any other occasion you may have. It is important for your clothes to reflect your personality and style, so why not do the same with your shoes? Musante’s philosophy is that everyone should have a pair of shoes that perfectly reflect their personal style and it is her goal to provide you with these shoes.
Company: Mallory Musante Shoes
Founder/Age: Mallory Musante, 22
Start-up Year: 2009
Start-up Costs: Approximately $8,000
How I Got Started: I originally wanted to be a shoe designer making custom, handmade shoes. I took a 5-day class in San Francisco with a London-based accessory school, Prescott and Mackay, to learn how to hand make a pair of women’s pumps. After taking the class, I realized that it wasn’t feasible to hand make custom shoes for women because the materials are extremely difficult to find and sometimes very costly. Then I met the owner of JGoods, a customization company that hand paints sneakers, at the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization National Conference in Chicago in 2008. This sparked my interest and I wanted to know if there were hand painted shoes for women. I looked everywhere and only found a few different options that targeted very specific styles of women. Since I’ve always painted, I wanted to try painting a pair of women’s pumps. I instantly fell in love and so did all my friends and family. So in 2009, I decided to start Mallory Musante Shoes by doing custom pairs of shoes and I have now expanded into creating my own line of signature looks.
Best Success Story/Customer Interaction: It is really hard to pick just one because I feel like every step is a huge milestone as a start-up. But if I have to pick just one, then I would have to say that my best success so far would have to be the sale of my first pair of shoes. They were a custom pair and the first opportunity I had to work with a customer to create exactly what they wanted. This was when I realized that I definitely had something going.
Biggest Start-up Challenge: My main challenge is gaining brand recognition in the footwear and fashion industries. It can be very difficult to get into and to gain the trust of customers, especially with a limited budget. People are skeptical of new brands. They are worried that the shoes won’t fit, the paint will come off, the shoes will be uncomfortable and any other concern you may have when purchasing a pair of shoes. I’m working really hard to try to overcome these concerns and to gain their trust as a new brand.
#1 Tip for Newbies: Be patient but persistent. There are a lot of ups and downs when you are first starting out so it is really important to be patient. I had so many delays and obstacles come up that I simply could not control so I really had be flexible. You can’t give up when an obstacle is put in your way. Be flexible and innovative to solve any problems that arise. Find something else to focus your time on while you wait on delays that are out of your control. Trust me, being patient and persistent definitely pays off. Once something positive happens for you, you will know that all the difficult times were well worth it!