Self-proclaimed “high heels addict,” social media influencer, and businesswoman Shantel Jackson wanted to find a way to make wearing her heels more comfortable without sacrificing the height. After trying a few products that fell short of giving her feet the comfort they needed, she decided to create her own — Shoe Gummi.
Shantel is the CEO and inventor of Shoe Gummi, an outer-sole pad that attaches to the bottom of your heels’ soles. Designed to prevent foot discomfort caused by high heels, Shoe Gummi takes the pressure off the balls of the feet, which also helps with the pressure and stability in the ankles and pain in the knees and lower back.
At its launch date in December 2019, Shoe Gummi already had 16,500 followers and has more than doubled that number in a year. But, when you’re a social media influencer with 1.5 million followers on Instagram alone, it should be easy to create a brand, right?
While Shoe Gummi is on its way to disrupt the footwear accessory industry, the brand launch didn’t come overnight. Shantel shares all about launching Shoe Gummi — the highs, lows, and in between of being a one-person business running a very successful brand.
ABOUT SHOE GUMMI
Why did you create Shoe Gummi?
Honestly, being obsessed with high heels and wearing them every day, all day to go anywhere…I came up with Shoe Gummi out of my own need to make them comfortable.
My own trial and error with going through products that were already on the market (which are primarily inserts), I knew there was a place for something new. And, there was nothing else on the market that goes on the outside of your shoe.
So, it just started out as a product for myself.
HIGH HEELS WITHOUT THE PAIN
Wearing high heels can result in shifting your body weight forward, putting incredible pressure on the balls of your feet, toes, and ankles. Shoe Gummi tilts the shoe back slightly, adjusting the forefoot’s pressure, stopping feet from sliding forward, and redistributing weight to the heels.
When did you decide to package it for consumers?
I thought of Shoe Gummi in 2009, but it didn’t become a brand for other women until years later.
Initially, I went to my shoe repair guy and asked him how much rubber could I put on the bottom of my shoes — trying to make them more comfortable. I felt the difference right away. So, I started taking my heels to him, 20 and 30 pairs at a time.
I didn’t think to make it a consumer product until around 2014.
How did you come up with the name Shoe Gummi?
After jotting down a bunch of names, Shoe Gummi is what stuck out to me. Mind you, the actual product is not a gummy per se. But, when I would think of the product, I thought of a cushioning or a softer impact, and the name just stuck.
Is Shoe Gummi your only business venture?
No, Shoe Gummi isn’t my only business venture. There was a point in time where I was so stagnant [with Shoe Gummi]. At times, when I thought something would take a few weeks, it would turn into six months, and then a year would go by. And, of course, I grew frustrated.
I needed something to do in the meantime, and so, I started my company, Fancy Goods, which started off selling lashes.
Do you have other products in the works for the Shoe Gummi line?
I’m currently working on different sizing. And, of course, there are the infamous red bottoms. So, I’m getting a lot of requests for colored gummies. So, I’m going to start doing red and tan to match up better with the colored shoe soles.
Stepping outside of the Shoe Gummi line, I’m big with foot comfort in general. So, when I take off my heels, I like to put on these things called toe separators. You put your toes in them, and they stretch out the ligaments in your feet. And, you don’t only have to wear these if you wear high heels. Even if you’re on your feet all day and you’re wearing sneakers, your feet are in a position that’s not normal — with your toes pressed together. So, I want to create my own product and call them Toe Gummie.
ADVICE FOR OTHER ENTREPRENEURS
So, let’s talk about Black women entrepreneurs. Since 2007, the number of Black women-owned businesses have grown to 164%, but we still have issues gaining access to capital, starting and sustaining businesses.
What advice can you offer to Black women starting a business?
Just with anything you want to do, do your research. Knowing the in’s and out’s of your product or service will make you stick out in a market that can be saturated.
How can inventors protect their product idea while also trying to pitch it to investors or developers?
If you’re going to talk to people about your idea, have them sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement). And, if you don’t have the money for an attorney, there are basic typed out NDAs that will cover you to a certain extent.
If you have a unique idea and you feel like it’s not on the market, you can contact a patent lawyer. They can help push you in the right direction.
What’s entrepreneurship like when you’re starting out?
Entrepreneurship sounds glamorous and exciting. And, it can be all of those things, but it is a lot of work as well. I’m a one-woman show when it comes to the aspect of doing my quality control — my emails, contacting my manufacturer, and dealing with my CAD design guy. I’ve done my own quality testing by walking in the same pair of heels with gummies on the bottom — which, as of now, I’ve walked over 120 miles in one pair of heels testing the same pair of gummies testing out the wear and tear of it.
A lot of people don’t know the time and effort that you really need to put into your business for it to continue to thrive and really go somewhere. I can pay a company to do my fulfillment, but I feel like I want to do my due diligence and handle these things. Until my production is at 100%, I still need to be hands-on. I want my brand to be associated with great quality.
ALL ABOUT HEELS
How high is too high for your heels?
There’s never too high. I have probably walked in every heel height and every type of heel.
What’s your go-to heel height?
I would say about four inches.
How many pairs of heels do you own?
I have a closet between here in LA, Miami, and then some back in St. Louis. I would say just in high heels alone, I probably have over 350-400 pairs.
CONNECTING WITH YOU AND SHOE GUMMI
Where can we purchase Shoe Gummi?
You can go to ShoeGummi.com. My goal is to be in stores like Walmart or Walgreens so you can run to the store and purchase what you need on the spot. But, for now, we are only online.
Where can people follow you and Shoe Gummi on social media?
You can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. It’s Miss Jackson. And, follow Shoe Gummi on Instagram and Facebook too. You can follow us to get updates — when we’re in stock when we’re out of stock. WE also give a lot of information about foot conditions and things to do to help you wear your high heels longer.