Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Inventor Showcase: Lizzie Lou Shoes


We have been meaning to showcase this invention for some time now and are so honored to have a product of this caliber on Womentorz.  I was thrilled to be given a pair as a gift for our December 21st launch party.  Not only did I look stylish, but my feet were also swimming in a sea of comfort.  With spring and summer in the foreseeable future I proudly put the spotlight on Lizzie Lou Shoes:





Q. How did the design process of Lizzie Lou Shoes begin?

My youngest daughter, Lizzie (often referred to as "Lizzie Lou"), has had an obsession with shoes from the age of two.  She is constantly looking for shoes with "bling."  We were out shopping one day when Lizzie showed me a pair of $200 crystal flip flops and asked whether they came in kids sizes.  Right then it dawned on me:  “Why there isn’t a line of gorgeous flip flops for mother and daughter?”  I took my idea to my cousin, Shilpi, who lives in India.  She had just had a baby girl but wanted to continue working from home.

My cousin and I worked closely together through the development and design process.  Finding the right suppliers and manufacturer was very difficult.  Shilpi's connections in India and experience in clothing manufacture were essential to finding the right ones.  We continue to keep an eye out for the best parts and supplies to ensure that we import a high quality flip flop.

We worked through several design changes before we finalized our first three styles. After a year of development, Lizzie Lou Shoes officially arrived on the market on Mothers Day weekend, 2009.  We launched our business at local boutique in Stone Oak, where I live.  We started with three styles of women's shoes and three matching styles of children's.  Since then we have expanded our women's line with six new styles, and three more in development.

Q. What was your experience like manufacturing your product?  Why was India the best fit for your shoes?

My cousin Shilpi works directly with the manufacturer so I am able to focus on design, marketing, and sales.  We use Internet phone service and email to instantly share new ideas, photos, sketches, and color schemes.  Sometimes our ideas are ahead of the supplier’s capabilities, so we have to re-work our original schemes.  The designs just got better and better once we were able to see how our vision works on a pair of flip flop.

There are definitely pros and cons to working in India.  I believe the quality of the product is amazing, and we have been able to make the shoes on a small scale.  I am not sure we would be able to do that in China.  The disadvantage is, the shipping costs and transit time are very high.

Q. Please tell us about the handcrafted elements that make the overall amazing design.

Each flip flop is hand-stitched and embroidered.  Every sequin, bead, and crystal is hand-sewn to genuine leather straps, which are then cut and sewn on to the uppers of the flip flops.  The individual care that goes into this process makes each shoe unique.  It is not a mass-produced product—there are very limited numbers of each style being made.  Having one is like owning a unique piece of jewelry for your feet!

Q. What has been the most rewarding part of the inventing process?


Just seeing that my vision of the perfect flip flop become real.  It was so rewarding to look down at my feet and see them sparkle, and think back on all the time and energy I put into them.  It was a huge undertaking and at times I wondered if we would have to give up.  But time and patience and determination paid off.

Q. What has been your greatest success with your business?


So far, it’s been having my shoes sold in several popular, high-end boutiques in my hometown,  San Antonio.  I love being out & about and seeing people wearing their "Lizzie Lous."  My clients and friends are always paying me compliments on comfort and style of our line.  I have enjoyed doing something that I can share with so many people, and especially being supported by fellow moms and friends.



Q. What has been the most challenging part of getting your product to market?

First, I had to learn the importing process, including customs and shipping procedures.  I received assistance from the International Trade Center at University of Texas at San Antonio.  They were instrumental in helping me find the correct Harmonized tariff code and understanding all the intricate details of being an importer.

Obviously, any new product needs marketing to put the consumer in touch with the product.  Being a higher priced item, there is a smaller target market of consumers, so branding my product has become essential.

Q. What or who motivates you through those challenging moments?


Reminding myself how lucky I am to be able to stay-at-home with my kids, but still be able to run a fun and exciting business.  It is a win-win for me and my family.

Q. Your shoes are so comfortable!  What makes the soles of the shoe so special?


One of my goals was to make my flip flops comfortable to wear.  So many times women purchase shoes not for how they feel, but for how they look.  Lizzie Lou Shoes offer the best of both.  We found the highest quality EVA  soles available.  Many people don't know that EVA features excellent shock absorbing characteristics and is very lightweight. That’s the reason EVA is used for the insoles that people put into their shoes.  EVA soles are the perfect icing on the cake for the anatomically molded comfort footbeds–at home, in your spare time or on the go.

Q. Is there something that readers would be surprised to learn about you?


Hmmm, not sure.  Maybe that until I came up with the idea for Lizzie Lous, I hadn’t worked outside the home in almost eight years.  It's hard work trying to juggle 3 kids, school activities, taking care of our home and still finding time to run a business.

Q. What were your initial goals?


To design and produce a high quality flip flop that would be affordable, comfortable and unique for mother and daughter.  After our first shipment arrived and was tested and worn, we decided to only focus on the women's line.  The price point for the children's line was too high and would be too hard to turn a profit.  We are working to improve the women’s line and bring in new designs.

Q. What is your background and how does it relate to your company?

 I have a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Trinity University(San Antonio) and have experience in marketing, public relations, and project management.  Before I stayed home with my children, I managed a marketing campaign for IBM and implemented it in Asia and Europe.  The experience of managing a large-scale project in several countries has helped me with the importation and multi faceted of my business.
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