The future of high heels may have shifted course, thanks to a Cal Poly start-up.
Pashion Footwear, a convertible high-heel company which began at Cal Poly, officially launched online sales Monday. The company has a patent pending for the world’s first fully convertible heel, which can turn from a heel to a flat in seconds.
Haley Pavone, the company’s 23-year-old founder and a Cal Poly graduate, started the company as a Cal Poly sophomore at the San Luis Obispo university in 2016.
Pavone, who studied business administration, was inspired to start the company after taking off painful heels at a party, only to be stepped on by a friend’s stiletto.
“I was a big high-heel fan growing up,” Pavone said. “After all the pain and discomfort of wearing high heels, I wanted to find a solution so my feet didn’t hurt anymore. And now, it’s a solution for any woman who wants to wear high heels.”
It takes about 10 seconds to convert Pashion Footwear’s high-heeled shoes into flats. A quarter turn of the heel unlocks the heel, allowing for the heel and arch support stelo to be removed.
A flat heel cap is then latched into the heel of the sole, the company says. The removable shoe parts can fit into a small, drawstring bag that comes with each purchase.
Pashion Footwear gained popularity in its pre-launch phase. Pashion raised a total of $1.7 million in seed funding, largely from angel investors.
As a student, Pavone won first place in two competitions offered by Cal Poly’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship: the Elevator Pitch Competition and Innovation Quest. The latter had a $15,000 grand prize.
Pavone said support from the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship helped the company grow.
“I think the center has done an incredible job fostering entrepreneurship at Cal Poly,” Pavone said. “Pashion wouldn’t be where it is today without the center’s help, resources and funding.”
Pashion’s headquarters are on Higuera Street in downtown San Luis Obispo at the HotHouse, a part of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The six employees who work in the office are all Cal Poly graduates or students.
The official launch features about 1,500 pairs of shoes in two styles: Girl Boss, a closed-toe, Mary Jane-style pump, and Pashionista, an open-toed sandal with an adjustable ankle strap. The launch styles are currently only available in coal black.
Pavone said 10 different colors and styles are in the pipeline, and will be made available based on demand. New colors or styles will be released as early as September.
Pashion Footwear shoes are available for purchase at www.pashionfootwear.com and at select Hudson’s Bay locations. They cost $165 a pair.
“It feels surreal,” Pavone said. “This wild idea I pitched and people told me it was impossible. Now three years later we’re selling the product and it’s a real business.”