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“It was a mixture of pain and inspiration.” Now the founder of Pashion Footwear Haley Pavone but it was from an accident, during a college party, that the idea was born of shoes with heels that you remove.
«I wanted to dance and have fun, but with heels it was difficult – he says Haley – at most you could sway and nothing more ». So, off the high-heeled décolleté to conquer the dance floor, at least until she was pierced by a stiletto. Sitting on the sidelines – in what she called her “less glamorous” moment – seeing all the shoes abandoned by the girls, enlightenment came.
Thus it was founded in 2016 Pashion Footwearthe company based in San Luis Obispoin California. The same that allowed the young CEO to enter the ranking of Forbes Under 30 and that he has confided that there is also a pinch of Italy behind everything – in addition to the Sicilian origins of the family.
«That same year, precisely the summer, I went to study at Florence. At that time I hadn’t started pursuing the project yet but spending that time in Italy convinced me that it was a valid idea. I saw that heels were used more than in America. For any occasion, at any time and in any situation. Then being surrounded by the culture of Italian fashion gave that something extra ».
From there she went back to America and founded Pashion Footwear?
“Yup. Every time I said to myself: “It is not possible that we still have to suffer from heels”. Until now, no one had really changed anything in the structure of the shoe as well as in the material used. Both have been the same for more than 200 years and it is not right that the only solutions were to bring another pair of shoes or even use patches ».
And it started without real knowledge of the industry.
«At that time I didn’t have any background in the footwear sector but the potential seemed really enormous. Especially in an area where improvements are really needed. So I went for it to see how to do it. It is not possible that even today the “Whoever wants to appear beautiful, she must suffer” is valid. Why do we have to choose between one or the other? It’s not right”.
Speaking of choices, you are talking about a product that is fashionable and technological. But what would you prefer between these two aspects?
“They are both very important. But I think the technological aspect is also essential to bring something new to the world of fashion. It always starts with what is needed, understanding the needs. Then, it is obvious that if the product is not beautiful, it is not sold. Precisely for this reason we have tried to create something that is functional and that adapts to the tastes of fashion. After all, every time we wear heels we know that they hurt and can be uncomfortable, yet we do it the same simply because they are beautiful ».
There are others who have tried to make this same shoe, what makes them different?
“Before starting, I looked at other products to figure out what went wrong. What I noticed was that many shoes didn’t fit and stayed stiff. While our solution is simple to use and allows you to remove not only the heel but also the arch underneath allowing the shoe to flatten ».
But I guess it was easy for us.
“No, in fact. Especially at the beginning when I received so many “no” as an answer. When I proposed the idea, many were skeptical, some even said it was ridiculous, yet in the end we managed to conceive this particular shoe and even put it on the market ».
In this regard, what was the biggest difficulty you encountered?
“It was a bit to introduce something new in the sector. At the beginning I talked to some personalities related to the footwear world and I noticed how they were wary of novelty. However, if over time we have grown and gained credibility in the sector, I still find the same reticence today when I talk to lenders ».
As you said, however, the shoes are there and are on the market, among all there is a model to which you are particularly attached?
“The boots, definitely. I am particularly attached to this model because it is the exact demonstration of how all this can be applied to any shoe model even for a completely closed model. Besides, I think it is our most comfortable product ».
I personally learned about Pashion Footwear through TikTok where his shoes went viral. What do you think about the use of social media?
«They are essential, especially for the fashion world. For us it was a turning point. We managed to reach a huge audience without spending anything and this shows how powerful this tool is. Once you had to spend a lot to reach the same people we reached and for a young brand, with a limited budget, it would have been very difficult ».
It was therefore an exceptional tool to make himself known especially by generation Z.
«I’m just saying that thanks to TikTok we have begun to expand our market. Before, we only sold in America, while now we are also receiving international requests and are also planning a business plan for other countries ».
What do you think is behind this success?
«It was enough to have the right content. A shoe with a heel that suddenly becomes flat intrigues and therefore it is not difficult for us to create content that is viral ».
He once said that his mantra is a phrase from his father: “Work hard, have fun to the fullest, make us proud.” Is it still true today?
“Absolutely. That’s what my father told me every day before I left to study. It’s a short sentence but it has a profound meaning for me: being a full, well-rounded person. You always have to find the balance between work and private life, find the right compromise so as not to make work toxic and take care of yourself. It’s something that helped me a lot at the beginning ».
Do you have a model?
“Sara Blakely, the founder of the clothing brand Spanx. I identify a lot with her story, we both started from something new that wanted to revolutionize some old concepts. Above all, both of us are talking about a product made by women and which is for women ».
Your biggest dream for Pashion Footwear?
«To create a new category in the women’s footwear sector. We have all the cards to do it and I believe it is possible not only on a technical level but also from a lifestyle point of view. In fact, we meet the needs of style, comfort and even personalization by matching everything with the lifestyle of the modern woman and the countless challenges she has to face ».
While the personal one after Pashion?
«I’d like to do something from the point of view of investments in the world of startups. Some of it comes from the difficulties I encountered at the beginning. But I’d like to create a fund that focuses only on women’s businesses. There are still too few of them and this imbalance is felt, so something must be done to give more voice to business women ».
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Source: Vanity Fair