In 2018, after years of living with lymphedema, a condition that causes swollen legs and feet, LaShonn is tired of hiding her feet under long pants and skirts. She designs a shoe that finally allows her to step out with confidence, and incorporates her company: CAIRS Shoes.
She pitches the distribution company she works for, thinking they might carry her product. “I went and bombed,” she says. She’s kindly told to make some sales, and then come back and talk.
A local business accelerator program rejects her application, saying she’s too early in her process. But as a result, she catches attention of Beth Veach, who happens to have experience starting a motorcycle shoe company – and is a great mentor.
An experienced cobbler informs her that her mechanical design is unsafe. And she if continues with this approach, “lawsuits will be waiting.”
The public library 3D printer she’s used for prototyping breaks, so she’s directed to Synergy Mill community workshop space. She’s sometimes there working on her shoes until 2 a.m.