How many things have gone the way you expected this year? Probably not that many.
That’s because obstacles and opportunities can come from anywhere at any time, and that’s what makes entrepreneurship a lifestyle like no other. We’ve been following one founder, LaShonn Edmunds of CAIRS Shoes, since OrangeWip launched back in May.
What started out as a desire to create stylish shoes for women like her who live with leg-swelling lymphedema has turned into an adventure in manufacturing, medical device development, and continuous reliance on resources in our entrepreneurial resources. Here’s Part Two of our story, or Part 20 of LaShonn’s journey.
LaShonn participates in The Platform at Greer bootcamp, a two-day pressure cooker where she takes actions that will have a big impact. Her coaches’ expertise ranges from engineering to accounting. She gets on the phone with the bank while her daughter helps out by calling the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Within two days she’s secured a domestic supplier, has a clear picture of her costs, and knows where to look for funding. “Having somebody to have me intently focused on checking one box was really helpful. Just get this done before you move on.”
A supplier discontinues making the outsoles (rubber bottom) she’s been using. She tries a local cobbler, but that doesn’t work out. She reaches back out to The Platform and discovers that Greenville-based Michelin makes outsoles. What luck. She uses their innovation center to create design files and 3D print samples.
CAIRS Shoes wins a $10,000 grant in a pitch contest by Village Launch, a support and education organization for under-resourced entrepreneurs. A little more fuel for her fire.
LaShonn has been working with a designer and just signed off on the new logo.
She’s also continuing to work on securing an FDA medical code for lymphedema so her future customers can pay for their shoes through insurance, like any other medical device. This effort, however, started more than six years ago. In the meantime, she might be able to use existing codes for conditions such as diabetes and pregnancy.
She researches how to get on the Medicaid and Medicare supplier lists.
Investors have approached LaShonn. She’s open to those conversations as she continues looking at all financial opportunities. She might keep bootstrapping for a while to increase her company’s value and get a better deal later.
Michelin looks like an ideal solution for eventual large-scale production, but in the meantime, LaShonn is working with a different supplier to produce a short run. Meanwhile, she has molds created so that the new logo can be stamped on the bottom and inside the shoe. In so many ways, CAIRS is making its mark.