What is a girl to do without her high heels and stilettos? The answer is a bit clearer these days. Susie Levitt and Katie Shea suggest that you slip into some fashionably comfortable foldable flats. Levitt and Shea are two budding entrepreneurs that understand your pain, literally.
The two NYU students, standing no taller than 5’2’’ respectively, found a bankable solution to an age old problem. What is a girl to do when her feet need a break from city nightlife or a heavy course load? Grab some FUNK-tional Footwear. Learn how two resourceful entrepreneurs turned their pain into profit.
Company: FUNK-tional Footwear
Founder(s), Age(s): Susie Levitt, 23 & Katie Shea, 23
Location: New York, NY
Startup Year: 2009
Startup Costs: $10,000
How We Got Started: As NYU students and petite powerhouses standing no taller than 5’2″, we were very familiar with the pain caused by high heels. Classes, internships, NYC nightlife all led to painful, aching arches. When scouring the market for an “emergency footwear” product left us empty handed, we used Alibaba as a resource to create our own! With savings of $10,000, and by juggling classroom papers and corporate term sheets throughout our senior year, we brought CitySlips to market in June 2009.
CitySlips are patent-pending, foldable ballet flats that come in a compact carrying case. Retailing at just $24.99, they promise portability & comfort for the overworked feet of the everyday woman! The best part? The carrying case unfurls into a tote bag to carry those skyscraper stilettos home in.
Best Success Story: Since our launch in 2009, the company has generated more than $1 million in sales, based on two styles of shoes priced between $10 and $25. Our “FUNK-tional Flats” are currently being sold in more than 500 boutiques worldwide and have recently been made available in stores such as Ricky’s, Bliss Spas, Torrid, Bed Bath & Beyond, Mandees, Dillard’s and Neiman Marcus.
Biggest Startup Challenge: Inventory management! It’s something we’re getting better at because we have sales history now. We just launched nationally at three retailers last fall: Neiman Marcus, Dillard’s, and Bed Bath & Beyond. Up to that point, we’d been selling mostly through specialty shops, gift shops, boutiques, and the shopping channels. When we started to expand our manufacturing, we had to forecast well: What will be the most popular size, color, etc.? We’ve learned to tweak along the way.
#1 Tips for Newbies: We know this is cheesy, but just do it. It’s so important to build momentum and tweak along the way. We also recommend talking about your idea. A lot of entrepreneurs are so secretive with their ideas because they are afraid of copycats, but at the end of the day, it takes so much time, energy, and money, to start a competing company. We recommend talking about the idea as much as possible, because you can get some really great feedback.
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