YORKTOWN, N.Y. -- What had once been a kid's playroom is now a shoe "warehouse" of sorts for one Yorktown mom.
Kara Schwartz -- who goes by Kara Mac professionally -- launched ShoeCandy in December 2014 and has since grown the company beyond her wildest dreams — with more exciting things on the horizon.
Mac, a long time shoe aficionado and mother of two, said she found it challenging to find stylish shoe options that would work for every part of her hectic life. So, she set out to create something that could instantly adapt to suit the needs of the wearer without compromising style or quality.
A former designer for Ralph Laren, she launched her idea at the MA Conference for Women where 10,000 women were in attendance (Hillary Clinton was the keynote speaker).
"I drove back to New York that night with butterflies in my stomach," she said.
"I took so many orders, I had no idea how I would pick, pack and ship them all by myself."
That's when her friend Ann Merin, who had ordered shoes through the web boutique, reached out to ask if she could invest. "She came to NY [she lives in CA] a few weeks later and we locked ourselves in a hotel room for 48 hours, strategizing," said Mac.
"I have strong creative skills and Ann has an impressive business background. I thought that a partnership would strengthen the trajectory of the company as I was doing everything on my own. A few months later, we officially partnered and rebranded Kara Mac to ShoeCandy by Kara Mac.”
It's also how “the Warehouse” came about. Mac, whose business has a Mount Kisco address, said she keeps most inventory in a rented facility in town and houses four pairs of each style in each color at her home. When she runs low, she takes a drive and restocks.
There are now nine shoe styles, some in more than one color, making a total of 14 options. What’s interesting about the shoe — and what makes it so unique -- is its "candy accessories," a variety of interchangeable high and low heel covers, toe clips and T-Straps, which change the look of the footwear in a matter of seconds.
"One pair of shoes can literally become 25+ different looks," she explained.
While her shoes are classic -- basically designed to never go out of style -- the trend is in the "candy." "Last year's accessory trends can be replaced using this year's accessories trends," she said.
It’s the “new way to shoe" that has made her company so successful so fast.
Mac likes to say her products are not just a shoe, they’re an experience. “The heel to toe, instant customization is the first of it’s kind and we were recently granted a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office," she said.
"We go on the road to demonstrate and educate the customer so she sees that she really can change the heel covers and accessories to match every outfit in her closet.
"Plus, it's convenient, practical and fun; great for commuting and travel. You can go from morning to night and day to day with one shoe, but have a new look each time you change your outfit."
Her quality shoes and accessories are made in an artisan factory in the leather shoemaking capital of Brazil with the best local leathers, she added.
Mac's goal is to have a “ShoeCandy Factory” flagship store in Manhattan similar to the American Girl or Build a Bear Workshop model.
"Not only can you make a purchase, women, teens, tweens and girls will actually be able to create their own 'candy' and walk out of the factory with a shoe, that they can say, 'I designed it,'" said Mac.
"It will be very interactive and when the mom and daughter get home and the father asks, 'Did you make a purchase at the ShoeCandy Factory?' the mom will answer, 'We didn’t just make a purchase, we made a memory.'"
ShoeCandy by Kara Mac sells via its web boutique at www.karamac.com/ and will be showing in New York's Chelsea Market in the ID Pop Shop Monday, April 24 through Sunday, April 30.