Light streams through the windows in an upstairs Seattle office building and shines down on rows of brightly colored shoes. Clogs, flats, heels, and stilettos–all hand-painted in styles ranging from bright and floral to intricate geometric shapes to simple and elegant patterns. A new business in the making.
Hourglass Footwear Founders Lisa Strom and Kira Bundlie, both professional artists, love shoes. Those interesting, one-of-a-kind styles that are so hard to find. Which is why they started painting designs on their own shoes. Kira says, “The first time we wore our painted shoes, people came up to us and asked where we got them. Soon we were getting requests to paint pairs for friends.”
Friends and family. . . like me! Lisa is my daughter. I got my first pair for Mother’s Day three years ago, and I wear them all the time. And, yes, everywhere I go, people comment on them.
Clearly, Lisa and Kira had a great idea. So they crunched numbers, met with an attorney and advisors, tested paints, developed prototypes and explored deals with shoe suppliers. They also hired ten local artists who are already busily developing their own collections. “Business-minded artists do exist,” the two say. “We’re proof!”
Yes, but even business-minded artists need funding.
Over the years, I have written about the exciting concept of global micro-finance. You know: Give a woman a loan and it changes a village. Micro-loans provide eager women in struggling countries access to the finanacing they require–money they could never get from a traditional bank. A woman might use her loan to buy a cow, for instance, and start a dairy. Or to open a tiny store. Or to buy supplies to make handicrafts to sell.
Great concept, and most successful. But what about in our own country? Could the same concept be used to fund new businesses here? The developers of Kickstarter say, “Absolutely!”
Kickstarter is essentially a route to help fund creative start-ups like Hourglass Footwear. Kira and Lisa put together an informational video, and are offering rewards–hand-painted shoes, original artwork and portraits—as pledge incentives. All pledges are processed through Amazon.com. If the start-up doesn’t attract enough potential investors in a specified period of time, no one pays and no one receives. But if it does, the pledges are collected and a new business begins.
“It’s a win/win!” Lisa says. “A chance to support local artists and get some great rewards in the process.”
Don’t you love it when you set out to help others and you gain in return?
To see the Hourglass Kickstarter video, visit:
“Blessed is he who has found his work.”