It was senior beach day, and neither Rigsbee Smith nor Thomas McIlveen could find a single decent pair of sandals in their closet for the event.
Instead of venturing out to the store to try to find a new pair to solve their problem, McIlveen and Smith decided to create their own.
That’s when Pulse Footwear had its beginning.
Smith and McIlveen graduated from Elkin High School on May 26 and are now looking toward the beginning of their first entrepreneurial endeavor.
“We both had previous attempts at starting a business since we were like 16, and they just didn’t work out,” Smith said. “I’ve always wanted to start my own business. I didn’t know that it would be this early, but it’s kind of cool that it is.”
McIlveen and Smith said that their parents’ careers are a big part of what inspired them to start their own business. McIlveen’s father is an OB/GYN, and his mother is an office manager. Together they own Total Woman Care and North Carolina Medical Weight and Wellness. Smith’s mother works in marketing.
Once the duo decided what their product would be they began their research on how they would make their sandals unique. After extensive research they found that special ingredient.
McIlveen said that the product they'll use absorbs almost 96 percent of the impact when you walk. He says it’s similar to a Dr. Scholl’s insert, but Pulse sandals will have a layer of the material built in.
“We searched for different materials that we could use to make a sandal and that’s what we decided on to make it a better sandal,” McIlveen said. “It won’t just look good it has to feel great and function and last.”
The summer 2012 collection is designed and ready for production but Smith and McIlveen must generate their capital income before they can start. They decided to utilize a Web site called Kickstarter.com to raise this money.
The site allows visitors to see the business ventures and ideas of thousands of people around the world and if they believe in something they can be the first to purchase the product. The entrepreneurs can post their venture on the site for 30 days in order to meet their funding goal.
“We’ve been through other websites and Kickstarter.com is a really diverse group of people,” McIlveen said. “We’ve looked at other sandal companies on the site and we’ve seen the responses and we think our product will fare really well. We’re hoping for at least $25,000 by the end of the 30-day campaign.”
If they meet their goal, the first line of the collection will be sent to production and mailed out to the homes of the Kickstarter.com customers approximately 10 to 15 days after the conclusion of the campaign. Smith and McIlveen already have their manufacturer lined up.
“What we want to do is obviously make it in North Carolina or in the United States but for right now our first production and the cheapest way to get it is from China,” McIlveen said. “The manufacturing company we’re using in China makes high quality men’s shoes so … it will be a great quality product.”
The first collection will hold a price tag of $25 a pair and there will be three design options. There will be options for men and women in a wide range of sizes.
McIlveen and Smith say that they’re ultimate goals if the shoes are successful are to branch out into apparel, open their own retail store and be able to start their own manufacturing company so they can make the shoes themselves.
“We would like to have enough investment capital to open up a manufacturing company and we could start small and progress,” McIlveen said.
McIlveen and Smith said that they considered making their headquarters in their hometown of Elkin but the feel that the will most likely set up shop in Charlotte when the time comes.
“If we were to set up our headquarters in Elkin the setbacks are that it’s harder for us to meet up with everyone else that we would be dealing with and there’s high taxes,” McIlveen said. “It’s not really business oriented and Charlotte is very business oriented.”
They don’t plan to leave their hometown behind, however. If the business is successful they hope to have a Pulse Footwear retail location in either Elkin or Jonesville.
“We’re definitely interested in opening a store in Elkin or Jonesville to show our support for the community,” Smith said.
They also have plans to start an academic scholarship for business minded high school students in the area.
“We looked at trying to get some business scholarships and they really didn’t have anything,” McIlveen said. “We want to offer something so [students] can have a kick start for themselves.”
To see Pulse Footwear's Kickstarter.com page visit:
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at email@example.com.