Fashion Q&A: Footzyrolls Founder Jenifer Caplan On Starting A Self-Funded Business
11:45 am, July 20th | by Laura Simmons
If you’re anything like me you love shoes. It’s just an unavoidable fact. But while I’ve been obsessed with heels and flats for years, I have found that the trendiest shoes are not always the most comfortable. My love for fashion has led me to wear shoes that have literally cut my feet or, even worse, gave me foot cramps (yes that exists).
But now, I’m relieved to know I don’t have to suffer anymore thanks to two sisters who are changing the footwear industry — Sarah and Jenifer Caplan. These two women used their financial backgrounds to come up with an idea to end footwear suffering. Their solution is Footzyrolls: the comfortable, fashionable ballet flat that rolls or folds up to fit into your handbag.
But while their love of comfy shoes is apparent, company co-founder Jenifer Caplan explained that it’s she and her sister’s entrepreneurial spirit that really got the ball rolling. Caplan sat down with The Jane Dough to talk about how she got her company off the ground and to give advice for other women looking to turn an idea into a lucrative business.
The Jane Dough: Can you give us a little background about yourself and tell us what you did before creating Footzyrolls?
Jenifer Caplan: I went to Tulane University, got a finance/ accounting degree and worked for Ernst & Young. I ended up going back to school and getting a degree in Real Estate Financefrom NYU, which basically has nothing to do with what I do now. But all those things, every part of what I did previously, really enabled me to set up the current business, Footzyrolls.
While we had an idea of what we wanted to do, the process of being an entrepreneur is not a straight line. You either have to know what you’re doing with your business or you have to hire the right people. We were able to do everything ourselves. Because we financed ourselves everything we did was risk adverse in terms of our capital.
TJD: Did you ever want to enter into fashion as a career?
JC: No, never [laughs]. We didn’t know we were getting ourselves into fashion. It was an idea and when we created prototypes (which we did with a seamstress and materials) the process was extremely creative and fun. But, we didn’t realize it was going to turn out into a shoe company.
TJD: Why did you decide not to make a business plan?
JC: We kind of made the general biggest mistake ever, which wasn’t a mistake for us, but is for most businesses — we didn’t have a business plan at all. My sister, Sarah, worked at J.P Morgan and she has a background in project management. We felt like everything we were doing with Footzyrolls was organic. We had some ideas in the beginning in terms of how much we wanted to sell and where were wanted to sell our products. But to sit down and write a formal business plan — it didn’t make sense to us because everyday we were thinking of new ideas and new things to do with the business.
TJD: So what motivated you to start Footzyrolls?
JC: The idea itself hadn’t really existed in the marketplace in terms of compact footwear and shoes you can fit into a handbag — it just wasn’t available when we started three years ago. Our idea, our marketing and everything about Footzyrolls was organically our own. Once you create something and see that people like it and that it can sell, it’s very empowering.
TJD: Have you faced any issues or had any concerns while starting this business?
JC: Yes, obviously there are concerns because we are growing very quickly which requires lots of money. And there’s the concern that this industry is very inconsistent. One minute there are tons of buyers and the next you’re like “Oh my God when’s my next order coming!” But we believe in the product and we are very good at creating other things besides the shoes, which we can bring into the marketplace as well.
TJD: What advice can you give to other women who are looking to become successful business entrepreneurs?
JC: I think the first thing is to tell women they should always ask questions of people that are already in the industry. Find a person in the industry that you trust and you feel will be able to share their experiences because it goes a long way in the learning curve. Always be available and open to other women or individuals in the same industry who are starting out like you. I would tell other small business owners don’t be afraid to share your ideas with other small businesses and form relationships with companies in similar realms. It will help you expand and grow in the long-run.
Image From CNN Money.