Sheree Coleman moved to New York City with a dream of working in television–and she did just that. She spent two and a half years as a production coordinator for the daytime drama As the World Turns. Who knew that the Ohio University graduate and production coordinator would weave her way into the fashion and retail industry? She didn’t. But she did know that her days of traveling the big city with clunky shoes that failed to reflect her fashion savvy would soon come to an end. After less than a year of experiencing this torture, Sheree met with her friends Alyxaundria Sanford and Sherrae Hayes to brainstorm a solution. Their vision became a reality September 1, 2010 with the unveiling of Sole Discretion and its first rollable and foldable shoe line, Slim Goodies.
What are you working on right now?
We recently launched Slim Goodies, a rollable shoe (also known as a compact flat) that comes with a chic black wristlet that expands into a tote bag. It can carry high heels or any other uncomfortable shoes. They come in four colors: black, silver, gold and leopard.
3 trends that excite you?
The takeover of social media: It is one of the most innovative ideas yet–and highly beneficial to businesses. If you have the right network, you can reach out to people for free. Other companies are spending thousands of dollars to reach just as many people.
Technology: Living in the city is hectic and with life, work and being the owner of a new company, there are days when I don’t have 15 minutes to spare to look at a computer. Thank goodness for smartphones like Palm, BlackBerry and iPhone, because I don’t have to.
Fashion: Sole Discretion is a shoe company so I have to work fashion into the equation. It’s something that is always changing and is totally relative. With the trends in animal print and military styles, I am jumping out of my socks.
How do you bring ideas to life?
As long as you have an idea that you think about in your head, it remains just that: an idea. The best way to bring it to life is to get it on paper. With the three of us, this theory holds true. We all are consistent with jotting things down. However, the way we do it ranges from creating visual webs to Excel spreadsheets to just having a scratch pad to catch the 5,oo0,000 ideas that float through our minds. This allows us to go back to an idea, re-read it, build on it and give it structure.
What inspires you?
If you pay close attention to detail, you may have noticed that our logo is not only a shoe, but also the letters “S” and “D,” which resemble and infinity sign. I am inspired by the endless opportunity that is available; the way that you can take a minor idea and turn it into something major. When I moved to New York, I randomly talked about the concept of Sole Discretion with my business partners for a year before we acted on it. Once we did, we instantly realized everything that this company has the ability to become and the amount of greatness that we can provide. I never want to lose sight of the endless possibilities.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
When we initially started the company we set marketing and sales parameters based on budget. Although it is very important to define what you are able to do at a given point, we realized the set up restricted us. Now, we make sure that the lines are more open allowing us to set quantifiable goals that do not limit the companies growth.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Figuring out what resources you have and utilizing them is the best way to start.
What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne promotes a method of positive thinking and helps you to see the big picture. When brainstorming and trying to formulate things, it is easy to fall victim to limitations that can hinder you in your follow through. Byrne’s book gets you past all of that and inspires you to make the effort and to try.
Google has to be the single most beneficial tool. We use Gmail for our business account, Google Analytics to track our website activity, Google AdWords to drive traffic to our site and increase sales, and Google Picasa to create select promotional materials.
Did you write a business plan? Was it an effective tool for you?
Because starting a business was foreign to us, we wanted to do things the right way so we created a business plan. At first it started out as an in-house document, but as the company has grown it has become a very important foundation that provides the detailed infrastructure of our company. It is a necessary tool that is difficult to complete in a rush. It is important because every company needs to have definition.
How does friendship affect owning a business?
Of course there are challenges to having any business, whether it is with friends or with strangers. However, there is more at stake when owning a business with friends, specifically the friendship. The positive side is that there is already a level of trust. Although at times the business relationship and the friendship may intertwine, the key is to have things written in stone. You have to establish specific roles/responsibilities and have rules set for voting and decision-making. The way to separate professional from personal is to keep professional interactions official.
LinkedIn: Sheree Coleman
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.