Transcript from the Solessence BlogTalkRadio interview with Shane & Shawn Ward of Shane & Shawn Shoes and Boardroom Rock Stars.
Hello and welcome to Solessence Radio. Today we (are talking about entrepreneurial) Dream Stamina, and featuring Shane and Shawn Ward of Shane&Shawn shoes. The second guest is Marc Paez of ManGlaze Nail Polish. But first up we’ve got Shane & Shawn. Let’s get them on the air.
S&S: Thanks for having us.
Thanks for being on today, how are things
S&S: Really good, just making things happen in NYC and happy to be on the radio
Excellent, well I know you’ve got some big news here to share, but first let’s give people an idea on your background. You started off with DETNY, correct?
S&S: Absolutely. My brother and I are originally from Detroit. We went to the University of Michigan, and right out of college (this is Shane by the way)> I started designing shoes for Adidas, for four years, and then Shawn was working at Chrysler. After four years we decided to move to New York to design our own shoe collection, and we decided to call it DETNY, which is a combination of Detroit – New York. The whole concept behind all of our shoes is that we’re taking our expertise and designing functional, super comfortable, athletic shoes in the athletic shoe industry and combining it with our sense of style – which is really hip, cool stylin’, so people out there who don’t think that really hip, beautiful fashion can be comfortable, then they’re mistaken, as you can find out with our brand.
Patented Memory Foam Comfort System
Right and that’s a really interesting combo to put together. You guys really do have some very sexy shoes, and they’ve been seen all over – red carpet, premieres – you’ve really hit the celebrity circuit. From there, you went on to Shane & Shawn Shoes, and, is that a departure from DETNY?
S&S: DETNY was our sport shoe, and all of the ladies told us “you have to design some really cool, sexy heels that are also comfortable,” so when we started making dressier shoes we called them Shane & Shawn. After having DETNY and SS together for about a year, we decided to make everything together to make it seamless and easier and started to brand ourselves. So everything is now SS, whether it is a sport shoe or stilettos.
Why don’t you name some locations where SS can be purchased?
S&S: Right now you can go online at ShaneandShawn.com, Macys NY. We also sell at Zappos.com, Shoes.com, Amazon.com
That’s a pretty good lineup. You know, even though you’ve got the background with design, and the experience, it is still a huge thing to launch your own company. What gave you the guts to do it?
S&S: That’s a great question, because, you know, a lot of people do see my brother and I on TV, in magazines, hear us on the radio – and they only see the glamorous part of it. But actually, starting your own venture, whether it’s in fashion, or whether you want to start your own restaurant or consultancy, it’s actually pretty difficult. You need to make sure all of your ducks are in a row, and I think what really gave us the faith was the fact that we’re both extremely young, we were confident that we would be successful, and we always felt that if we did fail, we could always go back and get a 9-to-5. But without family and a whole lot of responsibility, we felt like it was going to be a great time for us to do that.
So, you had factored in the failure portion as well – and it was still worth it?
S&S: Yeah, definitely. I mean, if you don’t try, you don’t know whether you’ll succeed or fail, and we had enough nerve in us, or were naive enough, to say “Go ahead, let’s go after it”, and it has been great so far. We’ve been full time entrepreneurs, right now, for 6 years, and we’re very, very happy. We tell this joke that if we do fail, we can always go back and live with our mom and she would be the happiest person on the earth if that happened.
Now you mentioned your mom, and you guys are pretty active on Twitter. She has joined you now.
S&S: Yeah, my mom, she’s retired and looking for cool things to do, and we actually set up the account for her and she’s just been hard core in love with Twitter. It has just opened up a new world for her and it’s really doing a cool thing connecting her with a younger generation. The whole idea came about, being her sons, we always received her words of wisdom through text messages, and her cooking tips, and we felt instead of her having to email all of us individually, this would allow her a greater audience and allow others to get some of that uplift that we get on a daily basis. And other people have definitely gravitated towards her, so it’s been fun for her and fun for us as well.
Well she’s really warm, and that comes across. It’s amazing how tight knit of a family you are. Do you have other members working in your company as well?
S&S: Right now we have a cousin so we do have some family, which is really great, but we did have our sister and one of our brothers really active when we first launched the collection.
Now jumping back a bit, you are primarily in the US?
S&S: Now we’re primarily sold in the US, but we do have a couple of accounts in Columbia. That’s really great for us. We do see ourselves as an international brand, and we are in the process of talking to several distributors in Europe.
And as far as your line, who is the contact if someone is interested in checking it out, picking it up for his or her store?
S&S: If someone is interested they should check out www.shaneandshawn.com and also if they want to email they can email at firstname.lastname@example.org
And guys, I feel like we’re sort of racing over the shoes, but can you tell me what’s coming for your Fall line?
Sneak peek Fall ’09 – Aqua Marine Mary Janes with Ruffled Satin Trim
S&S: Absolutely. This fall collection is one we’re really excited about. The whole theme is to go more natural, and when I say more natural I mean kinda quieting down the whole bling aspect of the collection and brining in more natural leathers so that the pieces and all of the ornaments and leathers and suedes can be used with multiple outfits, so it is not so specific to the shoe. We have a few booties in the collection that are going to be marvelous. We actually, in our women’s collection, named a shoe after Sherrie Shepard. We found out she’s a big fan and it is a really beautiful bootie that is suede all over with a really cute textile collar. And in the men’s shoes, we have some rock ‘n roll boots that are going to debut and we def think catch everyone off guard. It’s combining really rugged details you’d find in a workman’s boot, but in a sleek European shape.
That’s really interesting [thinking of times I’d worn Caterpillar boots as a statement, but wishing they could be tough and less construction].
S&S: And also keep in mind, stay tuned, because we launched a very small collection of handbags this past spring, but this fall, in August, we are launching the full line of handbags. So watch out, they’ll be really hot.
So they’ll be available in August?
Are you showing anywhere?
S&S:Yes, we’ll be showing at the WSA show in Las Vegas, July 31-August 2.
That’ll be great, I have heard about those bags. That’s pretty exciting; you are expanding, going new directions. But the biggest thing is that you have just launched this huge, consulting portion of your business – Boardroom Rock Stars.
S&S: (laughs) Yes, this is great. We are really, really excited. It’s a cool name. We basically saw a need out there because there were so many people, whether they were students, or 30 something, or 60 something, they were contacting us asking “How did you guys get started?” , “How did you write your business plan?’, “I want to start a business.” Then, when the whole recession hit, there were so many people who were left without jobs, who really started thinking, “I need to not rely on a 9-5 anymore” and they started to contact us. So it was kinda like great timing, because we’d been getting all of these requests, and we found out there was really no where out there where people could go to learn about entrepreneurship and still relate to the people that were presenting to them in a cool, you know, fun way. So we just launched Boardroom Rock Stars, and it is basically where aspiring business owners and entrepreneurs can come and learn how to launch different companies. And Shane and I are not going to be the only ones having courses on our site; we’ll be having many, many other experts coming on, doing online courses, we’ll have different academies, we’ll have 24 hour entrepreneur packages where people can come and email us any time, day or night and they’ll get a response within 24 hours. We’re really, really excited and check us out at www.boardroomrockstars.com
You’re also not necessarily worried about competition; you’re actually offering a course for people who want to start their own footwear line.
Sketching out ideas for 2010
S&S: Yeah! The thing is there is room for everybody. When we first started our own footwear line five years ago, we had two mentors who had shoe companies who helped us day and night. You know, they gave us detailed contacts, they gave us their PR firms, they gave us everything they knew, and we feel the same way about the next generation of shoe designers. It’s that, there is room for them – they may end up being competition, but there is room. And if you have good product, quality product, and you market yourself right, you’ll be successful no matter how much competition is out there, so we embrace it and we want to share the knowledge.
Where do you recommend people start on the Boardroom Rock Stars, as you have different ‘academies’ as you are calling them.
S&S: Yeah, there are different packages, and I think a really good way is to search the courses section and see if there’s something there that is actually in the field you’d like to know about. But we’re going to be adding two new courses every week. If there is nothing there, I would definitely recommend signing up for 24 hour entrepreneur, which will allow them, that’s a monthly package they can purchase, they can email us anytime and we also get on the phone every now and then with them. And the cool thing is we’re doing student discounts, so if someone is in undergrad or grad school and they really want to get a head start on the competition, we give them a nice discount on the subscription. So I would say check out the courses page and check out 24-hour entrepreneur as startup packages.
Do you see people joining up in NY to meet you or keeping it all online?
S&S: Oh absolutely. We not only have people in NY reaching out to us since we launched today, but there are people on the east coast in general, some in DC, that want to meet up with us in person and take on that whole Shane and Shawn academy. So we’re seeing it all today, the feedback coming in at a great rate.
I think that’s actually valuable. We touched briefly on your background, but one amazing thing to note is that you hit your $1 million mark in your third year, so you really do have a good track record behind you. You see a lot of people just starting up consulting services, but you do have the experience there.
Shawn and Dean of University of Michigan Engineering – Alumni Awards – Top 5 in the US
S&S: Thanks. You know, we weren’t born with a silver spoon, we’ve built our company from scratch, and I think that’s what we’ll be able to relate to everyone. If someone is out there thinking maybe they can’t accomplish or get to a million dollar business because maybe they didn’t have a silver spoon, we tell them that’s not necessary. We tell them if you have hard work, a great business plan and great mentors, you can make it happen. And even if you do have a silver spoon and you do have a lot of funding, you still want to be as frugal and efficient as possible. You just don’t want to start throwing money around. No matter what background you’re from, we’ll be able to give you the right tips and right information to be successful.
Do you have any additional news you wanted to share about what’s coming up?
S&S: Shawn and I are working on a collaboration with another footwear company so that we can basically offer the styling and the function that you get with the Shane and Shawn collection but at a more affordable price for the masses. That’s something that people on Facebook and Twitter can definitely be in the know, over the next couple of months, or when we launch.
Do you have a name for the line yet?
S&S: We haven’t worked up a name yet, that’s something we don’t want to say now
I wanted to talk about your MADE episode for MTV
S&S: Yeah that was a lot of fun
You guys look sharp – always.
S&S: Thank you.
You were a good choice. How did that happen?
S&S: Well, someone from MTV productions contacted our publicist and asked if we were interested in making over a young guy in Phoenix, Arizona into a ladies man. Not making him over just psychologically, but with his fashion sense. They thought it would be great, and they brought us out there, it was a 5-week process and we had a lot of fun. I mean this guy, he wasn’t the most fashionable guy in the school, he froze up around the ladies, we def worked on his confidence, and we put him through like a boot camp basically, of being ready to talk to the ladies at anytime. We gave him a nice makeover, hair, eyebrows, he lost 20 pounds because he was overweight and we got him into a nice workout regiment. It was so much fun and I think the episode couldn’t have come off better.
Shane and Shawn with Lydia Hearst
Well now how did you guys get so smooth?
S&S: (laughter) You know what, I think it’s a matter of my brother and I; we grew up in a big family. We have two older sisters, tons of cousins, our mom is really special in our life, and I think that has a lot to do with being confident and being able to express yourself.
You’re so good. Like I said, you’re really inspiring and, it’s nice to have good role models around, you know?
Well thanks again, loved having you on and good luck to you guys.
S&S: Thank you so much for having us, and keep in touch. Let’s do it again.
You can add them at Facebook, and follow Shane and Shawn and Boardroom RockStars on Twitter. If you’d like to chat with mom and read words of inspiration, follow her here.