For many women, the excitement of getting ready for a party or big event can be tinged with a bit of apprehension: A pair of stilettos may look fabulous, but will they make it through the night? Bringing a bulky tote bag with extra shoes may not be an option. FootzyRolls is an e-commerce company that sells rollable shoes described as “fashion first aid” for the feet. The waterproof ballet-style flats are designed to fit into a handbag or evening clutch, enabling women to carry an extra pair of shoes for when they need to change out of heels into something more comfortable.
The company was founded by sisters Sarah and Jennifer Caplan in 2009. Sarah has a finance background and still has her day job as a vice president at a large financial institution in New York City, where she’s based. Jennifer, whose background is in public relations and accounting, runs the company’s operations from South Beach, Florida.
After years of angry boyfriends yelling at the sisters for early departures from all kinds of events (weddings, concerts, and big sporting events) because their feet just could not last anymore in heels, they knew there was a real need for a solution. When Sarah saw a behind-the-scenes show with Oprah Winfrey and listened to the talk show host complain about the pain of high-heeled shoes, it inspired her to do something.
Each pair of FootzyRolls sells for $25 and includes a gift package and two drawstring bags to store the shoes in. The shoes are available in a variety of colors such as snakeskin, prints, and a patent-leather look. The product line now also includes Footzyflops, rollable flip-flops that are good for the beach, spa, pool, after a pedicure, or for summer weddings.
The target market is women aged fifteen to sixty-five who have experienced foot pain from uncomfortable shoes. Products are sold on the company’s website, in large retail chains, and in smaller boutiques. The sisters are focusing on online marketing and social media to gain customers and boost online sales. The PR outreach ties nicely into FootzyRoll’s online marketing on Facebook, Twitter, and other outlets. For example, there were 1.4 million visitors to the site when FootzyRolls were featured on “Good Morning America” in December 2009. The spot translated in $45,000 to $60,000 in sales from just twenty seconds of media exposure. FootzyRolls captured sales that day and the following three days. Additional press coverage has come from O, The Oprah Magazine; Lucky; Latina; OK!; Women’s Day; and the Web sites DailyCandy, FabSugar, and WomensWearDaily.com.
FootzyRolls are sold at over 1,000 physical stores worldwide, including Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, and soon Macy’s in the United States. Overseas, FootzyRolls are in the major Spanish department store El Corte Inglés, and in Ireland, Japan, and Australia. The Caplans are in the process of securing distribution in Dubai and other countries in the Middle East as well as in Germany and Russia.
The company is co-owned and self-funded by Sarah and Jennifer, who used their savings to get started. FootzyRolls is entirely bootstrapped. Outsourcing the fulfillment was a big part of the success of the company, as was hiring great administrative help. The Caplans use technology such as GoogleVoice, magicJack, and Grasshopper to keep communication costs as low as possible.
Sales are about $1 million and the company is profitable. All revenue is put back into the business to purchase inventory and develop new products. The sisters will most likely look for funding in the next few months. The company has good long-term distribution agreements that provide for stable contractual obligations that are easily monetized. For now, the Caplans are focusing on quick product development, changing designs to stay ahead of the growing competition, Internet promotional marketing, and extensive PR efforts.
This segment is a part in the series : 1Mby1M Deal Radar 2010