Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Kristen Vander Hoeven, who launched Tootsie Shoppe after a few photographers were not impressed with her sock lines while she was travelling as a model. So, what was the solution? Find out in today’s profile…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
Tootsie Shoppe is the creator of a unique line of socks, best known as foot lingerie. Our easy, comfortable style accessory has become increasingly popular amongst brides, fashionable career women and mothers-to-be. The elegant lace and bow sling-back design is incredibly versatile and provides the eye with a balance of both sweet and sexy, making them flattering on every woman. Footsies are ideal for dressing up plain toes or footwear and are tiny enough to fit inside any style handbag. Sometimes we’re asked to slip our shoes off unexpectedly with un-manicured toes or holes in our nylons… footsies are the perfect solution.
Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
Tootsie Shoppe started as a fun project in 2008, where at the time I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel as a model. I was always running from job to job, changing from flats to heels. A few photographers were not impressed with my sock lines, so I started cutting my socks – that’s when the light bulb went off. When I returned to Canada I sat at my sewing machine and created the first pair of foot lingerie. Fortunately my mother was a fashion design professor, so I learned how to sew and design at a young age… thanks, Mom!
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part is receiving positive feedback from customers. The most challenging part is wearing the multiple hats that come with running my own company.
What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
When my workday ends at 9pm!
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I hope to have many successful new products, and distribution in retail stores around the world.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Being an entrepreneur is a full-time job, you can’t cut corners and expect it to appear in Forbes next month.
What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Success to me will be looking back on my life and being proud of all that I’ve accomplished.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Realizing I could be my own boss.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Be confident, work hard and do not let other people’s doubts discourage you.
Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
Joso’s (Toronto). I have so many fond memories there and the food is insane.
When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
My “me” time is hot yoga, cooking for friends and Pinterest! (Follow me @tootsieshoppe).
Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
I don’t have a particular favourite, different countries hold different places in my heart. I recently traveled to Copenhagen; not only is it beautiful, but the food is to die for and the people are so friendly.
If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I don’t feel like I am supposed to be doing anything else right now. Ask me in 10 years.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
One of my best friends introduced me to the amazing Somaly Mam Foundation. which fights sex slavery.
What to you is notable?
Helping others where you can. Starting a company from scratch is tough, and at times competitive. I think it is difficult for some people to selflessly help others. I know how much I appreciate the help I have received so I always try to pay it forward.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?