Bachelorette parties. Club nights. Long work days. What do they all have in common? Heels! But worse than heels is the aftermath of wearing them all day and all night long. To save our feet and men from carrying us, Ingrid Sarver created Talaria Flats.
It was a hot summer day in Chicago circa 2013 when Ingrid was attending a bachelorette. She went from partying at day to bar hopping at night. At 4 am when all the bridesmaids had taken their shoes off, Ingrid realized there had to be a solution to every girl’s nightmare: swollen feet. Voilà, the early seeds of Talaria Flats were planted.
Launched in October 2014, Talaria Flats is a product based company that sells foldable ballerina flats in silver, black, white and champagne colors. They are sold in single pairs for $38 or as Bridesmaids Pack of three pairs, with additional pairs priced at $25 per pair. You can purchase them at their web shop or at Kleinfeld Bridal. Best part? You can customize them with your bridesmaids’ initials.
All About Business
Originally from Michigan, Ingrid studied Economics at Georgetown University. After working at a hedge fund for two years, she earned her MBA from NYU Stern in 2014. While at NYU, she was one of the seven students trying to start a business among the likes of fellow RADICHE Makers of Brooklinen.
With an entrepreneurial spirit since childhood, Ingrid engaged in garage sales, cotton candy sales and real estate while at Georgetown. It may have been this spark and work ethic that has helped increase revenue of $60,000 in 2014 to $400,000 in 2015. But like any serial entrepreneur, Ingrid needed to test her market and validate the price point before launching the company.
“You will love your idea. It will be your baby and everything you think of 100% of the time.”
A financier turned founder, Ingrid says the hardest part of starting her business was sharing the idea. “It’s a piece of yourself. When you tell people about your idea, it’s like sharing a part of your soul.” In the beginning, while many contemplated on how she would compete with $7 flats from Walmart, she received overwhelmingly positive feedback from friends and family. This made her dive deeper into the business and work on the business as a school project at NYU.
Ingrid conducted market surveys and had the female student population, which accounted for 40% of the total student body, over for beer and shoe testing. Just like her, these women didn’t have a fashion background but a business mind that was important for details such as functionality and design. She remembers receiving feedback from men as well (they clearly were more excited than women after reminiscing about all the times they had to assist them!).
“Having to defend your idea makes your idea that much stronger.”
The process from ideation to actual product development took about eight months. Ingrid says, “I did a lot of product sampling and worked with about 20 factories before picking one.” Through research, she found shoes that were $5 for one night stands (no pun intended) to those worth upwards of $500. There was nothing in between. “I found the white space in the market and decided to make something that was durable yet didn’t break the bank. Once I had the price I wanted to work with, I back tracked and narrowed down my manufacturer.” Today, the shoes are made in China and stored in New Jersey with sales across New York, Texas, California and the Atlantic Coast.
Another finding that helped Talaria Flats grow quickly was that many competitors were providing ballet flats but none of them were focusing on the wedding/events industry. “Most brides who buy gifts for their bridesmaids usually spend about $100 per bridesmaid. Having flats that were affordable with two $20 bills was something that stuck with me from a customer psychology point of view.” Indeed, this market segment has been enormously successful because it has led to customers being engaged and having conversations on the company’s Facebook and Pinterest pages.
Why The Name?
Initially, Ingrid wanted to name the brand “Cinderella’s Flats” to evoke the Cinderella story...midnight, the glass slipper, you get it. She even dreamed beyond the product and hoped to rent a food truck, call it “the godmother mobile” and sell shoes around Murray Hill and the Meatpacking District. No joke.
Little did she know, a small business in New Jersey owned the rights to the word “Cinderella” for footwear and Disney licensed with them. So, after debating to take legal action, Ingrid finally let go of the word and settled on Talaria, the name of a Greek God. Known as a messenger God, he would travel from place to place with gold sandals that were never ruined. Today, Talaria is the modern day version of those sandals that can take women everywhere. The days of no pain, no gain are over!
With a few false starts in the manufacturing and naming space, Ingrid and Talaria Flats are well on their way to climb high mountains. Whether it was the demand for matching shoes for flower girls to inspiration from Ingrid’s new born daughter, Talaria Flats will soon be introducing children’s and teens’ sizes. To add to the sisterhood of sharing shoe pains, the company is also hoping to get involved with Greek life at major universities. They plan to work with sorority members as brand ambassadors where they can customize shoes or sell them as part time income generation.
Photo courtesy of Talaria Flats.