Those who watch the ABC hit Shark Tank or peruse the aisles of CVS will likely recognize SoleMates’ flagship product, The High Heeler. The small, plastic device prevents women’s heels from sinking into the ground — and it has helped ignite one innovative Westchester company.
“The idea for SoleMates was born out of personal necessity,” says SoleMates co-founder and CEO Monica Ferguson. “Becca Brown first had the idea at her high school prom, but it was years later, after ruining countless pairs of heels that she shared her idea with me.” As second-year students at Columbia Business School, the two entrepreneurs formulated a plan that became the foundation for the business. “It took a few years before we had the confidence and leg work in place to quit our jobs and pursue the idea full-time,” says Ferguson.
The next step was selecting the location of the business, and Port Chester seemed like a natural fit. “When looking to expand our warehousing and office space we searched from Red Hook to Stamford,” says Ferguson. “But when we found the space in Port Chester it seemed as though the stars were aligned. The space is beautiful, spacious, in walking distance to Metro-North and in a unique setting where we are surrounded by other brands and entrepreneurs.”
According to Ferguson, “Since inception, the company has evolved from a product to a brand. It’s a non-traditional route but for SoleMates it was the most authentic path to growth.” A prime example of this growth is the company’s recent appearance on the shelves of thousands of CVS locations.
“Getting into CVS, the brand’s biggest retail partner, was the product of years of hard work,” explains Ferguson. “The opportunity to be sold at the cash register in close to 4,000 CVS doors is any consumer-product brand’s dream. It boosts awareness for the brand and catapults the brand’s positioning into another stratosphere.”
Plus, CVS will not only be carrying SoleMates’ primary product. “In addition to the heel protectors, CVS is also selling the Blister Blocker,” says Ferguson. “This is an anti-friction balm that prevents blisters. It’s all natural, unscented, not greasy and made in Pennsylvania.”
SoleMates may be finding so much success — beyond their moment on television and presence in CVS — due to its commitment to producing clean products. “We scour the market for the things that we want and need,” says cofounder Becca Brown. “We see what is available and then we work with experts to improve the formulas. We remove toxins, chemicals and any ingredients that we can’t readily identify or spell.” Ferguson seconds this, stating, “We don’t use chemicals or toxins in other parts of our lives; so we extended this discipline to the products we develop.”