DCF: Who Are You?
Sandra Gault, True Gault, CEO “Fashion should fit you; not the other way around.” The idea emerged as Sandra stood in painful designer heels at a party, realizing that no amount of compliments could make her feel at ease. It was then she vowed that every woman – regardless of age, size, or shape of her feet – deserved a beautiful pair of heels that she could wear all day long, in perfect comfort and confidence. So she channeled her three passions – fashion, business, and technology – into True Gault.
Sandra has over 20 years of experience in building business, leveraging technologies, and leading teams. Her experience at Kodak and IBM Corporation refined her skills in imaging technology to achieve her vision of customizing high-fashion shoes of the highest quality. Sandra was then involved with 2 start ups which she successfully exited preparing her further for the start-up world. 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.
True Gault is Sandra’s true passion. She never sets foot anywhere without a pair of these true-fit shoes. To date she has taken over 5,626,290 steps, or walked 1,674 miles, in her True Gault shoes.
DCF: Why do you love what you do? What makes you funemployment?
SG: We LOVE shoes! 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, and we feel every woman, despite her age, size, or shape of her feet, deserves beautiful, comfortable high heel shoes. (DCF: Fashion for everyone!)
DCF: Who was your first mentor and how did you find them?
SG: There were many actually. It really started with my Great-Grandmother who at the age of 79 was a successful pitcher in the local ladies softball league. Those were the days when women still wore skirts when playing softball! She was re-defining the definition of what women could do – at any age. I also credit a lot of my initial encouragement to the University of Rochester, where I received my MBA. They got behind my idea from the beginning, and urged for early testing of concept which was instrumental in refining our fit algorithms.
DCF: What’s your happy place?
SG: My happy place is the True Gault factory in Alicante, Spain. So few people truly understand the immense amount of work and expert craftsmanship that goes into handcrafting just a single pair of shoes. Being around all the leathers and embellishments, in the company of luxury artisans who are so skilled, is totally mesmerizing! (DCF: Sounds like a magical place!)
DCF:Where do you get your energy?
SG: The shoe industry itself is super antiquated, and really hasn’t seen a major change in hundreds of years. Traditional shoe retailers deal with major inventory constraints, because they have to stock matching sizes. I get my energy from this challenge – anytime you approach an industry with an accepted way of doing things, it raises the bar that much higher. You have to prove yourself everyday. But we are fortunate to have so many customer testimonials from women in love with their shoes – it proves our game changing concept and inspires us daily! We have women who share their stories about how their True Gault shoes have made their lives better – by making them feel more confident and empowered – that’s the best fuel there is.
DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find it?
SG: For us, balance comes from approaching drive and dedication with a healthy dose of fun. We approach every problem in an “out of the box” way – we want to break industry norms and radically change the way women shop for shoes – especially online. (DCF: I love heels and I love comfort so this feels like a match made in heaven!!)
DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?
SG: Our 3D scanning technology is totally proprietary, so we’ve built our business model from the ground up. It has taken years to perfect our scanning method. When we started, we used a physical foot scanner and created “pop-up” events where women could get scanned and buy shoes to prove our business model and perfect our fit formulas. 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. It’s available via the Apple store, free of charge, so any women can scan her feet and design her shoes. We have had to evolve alongside technology – as iPhone camera capabilities improved, we were able to evolve and create a shopping method that is truly revolutionary.
DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?
SG: Women-led start-ups typically have a much harder time raising capital, so we opted for a fresh approach. We are empowering fans of the brand to build a long-term relationship with the True Gault through a stakeholder position where they actually get to participate in our financial success. We’re thrilled for the opportunity to drive interest and investment through Republic’s equity crowdfunding platform – we want to give everyone a chance to join the revolution and invest in the future of footwear for as little as $100. You can check out our campaign here: http://www.republic.co/true-gault
DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?
SG: A few key points of advice. First from a very successful entrepreneur and business person: he said, “be ready to go through a lot of people.” I remember thinking, ‘No, I’ll be better at hiring and selecting.’ His message was that the company will go through different stages quickly and many times the people you have helping might not be the right skill set for the next phase – and this comes much quicker than you think. He encouraged me to be ready to change things up, and to be fast to implement. Focus on always having a set of quality resources available so you can quickly grow.
The second piece of advice is about quickly forgiving yourself. You’ll make lots of mistakes, sound foolish at times, or feel like you overstepped or misrepresented something by accident. Entrepreneurs have the tendency to beat themselves up if they’re not on their “A” game 24/7. The key is to see it as a journey of expansion – personally and professionally. To get the most out of this journey you must learn to forgive, love and nurture yourself throughout your entire journey.
DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?
SG: 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.
DCF: What was your proudest moment to date?
SG: 2017 has been terrific for us! We formally launched in the app store in August of 2017, and announced that ELLE Magazine Editor in Chief and Project Runway judge, Nina Garcia, joined the True Gault team as an Advisor. Supermodel Niki Taylor was spotted out and about in NYC wearing True Gault shoes on 3 different occasions. True Gault was accepted into Google’s Accelerated Growth program (which launched Warby Parker, Casper, Dollar Shave Club and more!). And we received features in Fast Company, CNBC, Business of Fashion, Business Insider, Fashion Week Daily and more. True Gault was also chosen from over 3,000 companies to be featured in SONY’s new reality investment show, Meet the Drapers featuring Silicon Valley’s famous venture capitalist Draper family (our episode aired December 17th and can be viewed on our You Tube channel here: https://youtu.be/ZL_AW0vAm98). I don’t know which of those moments stand out most, but it’s been a successful launch!
DCF: What are you Currently Conquering?
SG: In 2018 we will continue to refine our algorithm to give women everywhere unparalleled confidence when shopping for shoes online. Right now we’re focused on North America, but plan to launch globally! We also plan to expand with an Android version of the app as well. (DCF: Yes please #TeamAndroid). Plus we’ll continue to offer hot new styles more quickly and grow our collection.
DCF:What’s Your Social Media!!
You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TrueGault