True Gault CEO & Founder Sandra Gault has over 20 years of experience in building businesses, leveraging technologies, and leading teams. Her experience at Kodak and the IBM Corporation refined her skills in imaging technology to achieve her vision of customizing high-fashion shoes of the highest quality. Before bringing True Gault to life, Sandra pursued an apprenticeship to learn the art of shoe-making, then researched to find the perfect craftsmen and manufacturing facility to support her endeavor.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
For far too long, women have simply accepted the idea that high heels have to be painful. Until True Gault, no one has come up with a solution to answer this problem. We feel every woman – despite her age, size, or shape of her feet – deserves beautiful, comfortable high heel shoes.
Tell us about your business.
True Gault uses 3D-imaging technology to guarantee shoes that fit and feel great – all via iPhone. By applying a fit formula to each foot’s biomechanics, shoe size becomes irrelevant; each pair is as unique as the woman who wears it. In fact, each shoe comes with its own unique serial number – there’s no need for shoe sizes. With True Gault’s innovative technology and iPhone app, women no longer have to sacrifice style for fit, or vice versa.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
No. Our base price is $250 for pumps, $350 for boots. That is inclusive of the entire bespoke fit process, and the shoes are handmade by artisans in Spain with the world’s top materials, delivered to your door and all backed by our True Gault fit guarantee. Since we deliver directly to the consumer we eliminate the ‘middle man’ and pass along the savings. Normally custom shoes that are designed to fit can cost anywhere from $800.00 – $3,000.00.
Early on, True Gault was recognized and onboarded by Google’s Accelerator program (the likes of which helped launch Warby Parker, Casper Mattresses and Dollar Shave Club). Google has been a giant supporter of True Gault since the beginning, and we have seen tremendous conversion and success in bringing new shoppers to the app. Google has led the way, through ad placements and data analysis, bringing game-changing companies to life.
Where is your business based?
We are based out of New York, NY, and all of our manufacturing takes place in Alicante, Spain.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
When we started, we used a physical foot scanner and created “pop-up” events where women could get scanned and buy shoes. We quickly realized that in order to scale the business we needed to bring the 3D scanning technology to women everywhere at any time and ideally in the comfort of their home. Thus, we created a True Gault iPhone app for iPhone 5 or higher. It’s available via the Apple store, free of charge, so any women can scan her feet and design her shoes.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
The Google Accelerator program was integral to our initial push (the app went into the App Store in December 2016). We’ve gotten some great press, but in the end, “word of mouth” always wins. Our customers more frequently than not become repeat buyers, and love to share their experience with their friends. We’ve heard stories of “fitting parties” and women really excited to include the True Gault shopping experience in their “Girls Night” plans.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
The shoe industry itself is quite antiquated. Cobblers have been making shoes the same way for hundreds of years. Because of inventory constraints, stores stock shoes in matching sizes, and almost always in the same width. Anytime you approach an industry that has not seen change in a very long time, you really have to prove yourself, and thankfully our customers can speak for us.
How did you overcome these challenges?
We’re breaking the mold on the footwear industry by ingratiating shoppers in the experience. The scanning process is super easy and only takes a couple of minutes! And you only have to scan once. The app captures your fit information and we store in our backend system, and it’s available every time you place an order. This is all backed by our True Gault fit guarantee. If the shoes don’t fit, we’ll remake them until all of your 10 toes are happy! So when the customer gets her shoes, she electronically gives her feedback via the True Gault iPhone app. If needed, a True Gault “Shoe-ologist” will contact the customer to ensure we have all the key information.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
We focus on the excitement and the continuous positive feedback we get from happy customers. Women really feel like our shoes are game-changers, and that’s rewarding. It’s especially motivating when we realize how we have positively affected someone’s personal life or enhanced her overall self-worth – all through a pair of great fitting and gorgeous looking shoes.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
True Gault is truly the only shoe brand out there using this 3D imaging technology to make gorgeous shoes that fit, and we built the entire app, business and operations platform ourselves. Statistically, no two feet are alike, so traditionally purchased shoes are not going to be a perfect fit from the beginning. From our software, we can actually see all of the metrics from a woman’s individual feet – which is what allows us to build not only a better shoe but also the best possible fitting shoe for each customer – one unique foot at a time.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
Failing is just as important as succeeding. Embrace it. It’s easy to see the value in succeeding. But when you fail, you want to fail fast, and then try again. Remember you will fail long before anyone around you will ever view you as a success.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
My best advice is to never limited your brand. True Gault is many things. We are a fashion accessories company. We are a woman-run business that is turning e-commerce on its head by alleviating the need for inventory and creating personalized product. We are a tech company that is innovating imaging technology and bringing it to an industry that has been slow to embrace change. Always use your vision and passion as your beacon.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
Being a part of the Google Accelerator program has been a tremendous tool to increasing our exposure. We get an unparalleled look into consumer behavior – we can see which users download the app, which download and scan, and then finally who downloads, scans, and ultimately purchases. We can shape our messaging around the data, and maintain a deeper level of relationship with both potential and current shoppers, all in real time.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I recently read the story behind Spanx Founder Sara Blakely’s entrance into the women’s accessories space, and found it to be fascinating. She built an iconic brand, and went through all the same struggles for funding and growing pains.
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
We’re not just selling shoes, we’re giving an engaged experience to each and every customer and potential customer. As a result, we’re creating a community of like-minded women who not only appreciate what we have built, but also become a part of the business themselves. In turn, they naturally share their True Gault stories with their networks both professionally and personally.
As we learn more about our potential and current shoppers, we are working to define the broader female archetypes who covet high heels: the young professional, the working mom, the older woman who no longer feels she can wear heels, etc. High heel lovers span industries, generations, and demographics, so we want to be inclusive of everyone.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
Right now, the app is only available in the US and Canada, but we are looking to very quickly expand into Asia, Europe, etc. Overall, we want to grow our customer base and turn our True Gault wearers into converts and collectors!
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