Building a Business…One Sole at a Time
Sunday, March 4, 2012
See the two 20-something girls with the suitcase? Party girls on a weekend in Vegas? Nope. They are young Las Vegas entrepreneurs on their way to fill vending machines – their vending machines.
Ashley Ross and Lindsay Klimitz are the US distributors of Rollasole shoes – emergency ballet flats that can be purchased on the Rollasole website or can be dispensed through vending machines. Two such machines serve patrons of Vanity nightclub at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas and RPM nightclub at Tropicana Las Vegas. A third machine will soon be making an appearance near the Tao nightclub at The Venetian Las Vegas. In Los Angeles, the Colony nightclub also features a Rollasole vending machine.
The young women met some two years ago, introduced by a mutual friend. Ross was in real estate; Klimitz was an event planner. In their early 20s, the girls occasionally visited Las Vegas nightclubs together. They remarked at how often the women at clubs would arrive in fancy dress, including very tall shoes, but would end up barefoot carrying their footwear.
Clearly, feet in high heels can suffer after several hours of dancing. Typical handbags for the female club crowd are small clutches, so bringing along an extra pair of comfortable shoes is tyically not part of the planning. An emergency run to a casino shoe store is not an option either. Nightlife woes begin long after the retail stores have closed.
Ross and Klimitz got busy, wondering if anyone had invented portable emergency footwear. They found such footwear in Great Britain. A man named Matt Horan had developed and patented shoes called Rollasole. These particular shoes, at a price of $20 each, roll into a ball about the size of a fist, fit in a small canister and come with a large black bag to carry home those painful high heels.
The women loved the Rollasole concept, contacted Horan and eventually decided to collaborate with Horan’s company and take a leap into their own business. In August of last year, they secured the rights to the U.S. distributorship of Rollasole, and they’ve been on the go ever since.
“We do everything in the business,” says Klimitz. “We adapted the website to the U.S. audience. We’ve prepared marketing materials. We refill machines. We’ve even picked up machines at the airport.”
Adds Ross, “We’re busy every day networking, seeing customers, and even alerting companies to advertising opportunities. The vending machines have a window, and depending on location, ads can also be placed on the machines.” The U.S. distributors have an office at Warm Springs and Bermuda, but the office, in terms of phone calls, travels with them wherever they are.
Even before Ross and Klimitz became involved, Rollasole shoes were discovered by entertainment columnist Perez Hilton who said the shoes should come to the U.S. The folks at Loreal also brought a machine to dispense free shoes with their logos at the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award shows. Hilton has since been contacted by Ross and Klimitz, and he has a designed a Rollasole shoe that will debut in about a month.
Other start-up activities have included having a booth at the Beautiful Bride Expo at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino Las Vegas in January. Klimitz noted that Rollasole silver slippers in a wedding box were quite popular at the show. Just recently, one bride purchased 200 Rollasole shoes as giveaways at her wedding in Puerto Rico. (Rollasoles come in three sizes and the bride assortment is available in boxes of 24 shoes, 6 small, 12 medium and 6 large for $229.95. A message in each shoe thanks people for helping to celebrate the big day.)
What does the future hold for Ross, Klimitz and Rollasole?. New shoe designs are coming, some of which have been designed by Ross and Klimitz. Higher end shoes are also coming, meaning shoes with thicker soles that can become permanent parts of the wardrobe, rather than just emergency footwear. These higher-end shoes will cost more than $20, but final new prices have not been set.
Expect to see more publicity about the shoes both in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the ladies’ starting cities. However, nothing prevents the gals from looking to expand their services to cities such as Miami, Chicago and New York. California fashion icon Lisa Kline will feature Rollasole shoes on her new VANITI.com website.
Ross and Klimitz agree they are loving what they are doing in building a business. Both are still single. Ross is completing her college degree in business; Klimitz has a Bachelor of Arts degree, and both are using their talents daily in the new venture. They say so far, they’ve had no difficulty consulting each other on every decision. They are confident they have a product that fills a definite need, and they hope whatever success they have will be a role model for other female entrepreneurs.
And to think…all this came about because tired ladies often choose to go barefoot in a nightclub.