How many things turned out 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 of this year.
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 100 of LaShonn’s journey.
Programs. LaShonn signs up for Village Launch (Mill Village Ministries) to solidify a business plan. She meets a speaker, Bryan Davis, Managing Director of Furman’s Hill Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and decides her next step will be their GVL Starts program.
She’s an official graduate of GVL Starts’ first cohort. Among other things, she’s learned how to cultivate a network that moves her business forward. "As an African American woman born and raised in Greenville, they opened up a whole lot of circles I would have never been a part of.” Doors keep opening. She’s telling everyone she can about the value of being willing to raise a hand and ask for help.
It turns out CAIRS shoes are a medical device, according to the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “I had no idea I had to get FDA approval. Did you know a toothbrush has to get approved by the FDA?” She credits that knowledge to guidance from the South Carolina Research Authority (SCRA).
But the bigger hurdles lead to bigger goals. Now she’s planning a “smart shoe” that can connect to health platforms, giving clinicians better insight into lymphedema. It could help improve diagnosis and treatment of a disease for which there’s not much existing data.
LaShonn plans to connect with South Carolina’s life science community now that she’s officially in the healthcare space. And, like any small business, find a really good lawyer.