Take a walk in her shoe (Gummies)...

Creating a business is no easy feat. In today's economy and the continuous influence of social media, many look at entre­preneurship as brave warriors embarking into the unknown because, in fact, that's who they are.

On the other hand, the allure of entrepreneurship can make it seem like everything is perfect. Flexible schedules, luxurious vacations, and designer clothes can all be shown as a sign of success with no hardships along the way but Shantel Jackson, the owner and founder of Shoe Gummi, gets real on what curious minds need to know about entrepreneurship before and if they choose to take the leap.

Miami-born and raised, Jackson's passion for fashion started young. While some girls found stealing their mom's makeup as a sign of expressing their artistic individuality, Jackson's creative light brightened with shoes — and in particular of the high-heel variety. While Jackson took on to her modeling and acting gigs, high heels collided with her world and never left.

"I've just always been into the glitz and the glamor and I wanted to wear high heels day in and day out,' she said.

Wearing high heels is a lifestyle for Jackson and admitted that she's taken her love of heels to help her pick out produce. "I honestly feel the most confident and attractive when I wear heels. It's just my thing" she explained. *! would go to the grocery store in heels and [people] would be like, Why don't you want to be comfortable walking around the grocery store?' and I guess, but why not go to the grocery store decked out how I want to, you know?'

For Jackson, it's more than just 'looking nice" or feeling secure about one's self, wearing heels gives her a euphoric feeling that is unmatched by any other fashion item. "I can feel good in everything. I can feel good dressed down. | can feel good dressed up, she explained. "It's just when I put on those heels, it's like Beyoncé or Nicki Minaj talking about their alter ego. When I put those heels on, that's my alter ego."

Jackson's love for heels was tested when she first moved to Vegas. The Vegas Strip alone is over four miles long, and with heels, it can seem like you're walking for eternity. From your hotel to the casino and the club or show you plan to attend when the sun sets, heels are rarely an option to keep up with all-day activities. But, for someone who walks in heels effortlessly admitted it was even a hard act to pull off.

"It wasn't until I moved to Vegas that I realized how much strain heels can put on your feet. Vegas is an outrageous amount of walking. I wore heels all the time previous to that but Vegas was just a whole different ball game when it comes to walking in high heels," Jackson said.

Jackson asked herself, "What can I do to make these more comfortable?' Is there a solution?' 'What can I do to help?"

However, the pain in which Jackson received walking around Vegas in heels gave her an idea that transformed her life forever. Living in Vegas, she came up with her company Shoe Gummi, an adhesive attached to the bottom of your heel to maximize relief on the balls of your feet.

"I don't know if I didn't move to Vegas that would I even have come up with my product, she admitted. 'I always ask myself that."

As a creative, coming up with an idea is hardly ever the problem, but issues seemingly tend to arise in the production of the vision. The stress of Shoe Gummi in the earlier stages weighed in on Jackson, and almost prompted her to quit.

"If I had known about the sleepless nights, the crying, the headaches, the turmoil of, all things not going right, and just the amount of times I had to go back to the drawing board because things weren't panning out; I don't know if I would have started a business, honestly,' she said earnestly.

Jackson's issues didn't stem from the product itself as she personally wore Shoe Gummi before the patent got approved. She tested it on a pair of heels that particularly gave her pain after an hour's wear. She then wore the same shoe with Shoe Gummi where she was able to keep her heels on for "eight to nine hours." She was confident that her product worked. However, getting the product through the rounds of testing needed to make her dream a reality began to take a toll on her.

"I was going through so much at the time, and | felt like maybe a lot of that also put weight on why things weren't going at a fast pace. It took five to six years of patents, research, development, going back to the drawing board, and lab testing before I could even put this on the market. So just imagine what that can do to your mind."

But don't get Jackson wrong, while becoming a business owner was not easy by any means, what she's been able to take away from Shoe Gummi — besides her feet no longer hurting — has been fulfilling, to say the least.

"My business making me fearless has been one of the biggest rewards because it [showed] me that in any aspect of life, business or other work that I want to do | feel like now I have this fearless mindset," Jackson expressed. 'I'm like Okay, I'm gonna put my focus into this as well and see where this takes me. I'm not scared of the outcome.'

Looking into the future, Jackson explained how she was impacted by other strong women in business. For the Miami native, it was Sara Blakely with Spanx.

"She took a product and refined it and still created a lane and a niche in itself for her brand," Jackson said in awe as she admired the brand recognition of Spanx. "I love the name of her products so much because | would say to my circle of friends or a lot of women they don't say, 'Oh, I got to go get my girdle' They call it a Spanx, no matter if they bought it from Target or Walmart. That name sticks to other people's products." How Spanx is recognized in shapewear is where Jackson gets inspiration as to what she wants to do next with Shoe Gummi.

"Last year was a bit of a whirlwind for me," Jackson explained. "I just went through certain things and had to take a step back to move forward but I had the time to get into introducing or working on new products that were in the same realm of foot health and foot comfort, um, which is something that I've always wanted to do."

Jackson teased that she could see herself starting a hat line, piggybacking off of her beauty company Fanci Goods, or creating an entirely new business down the line. While the exact future of Jackson's business ventures is still coming to fruition, we'll just have unpainfully wait in our Shoe Gummies to see.


— Photos by Orin Fleurimont

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