What it does: Sells portable shoes Founders: Katie Shea, 24, and Susie Levitt, 24 (pictured left to right) Based: New York Revenue 2010: $1 million Revenue 2011 (projected): $1.2 million
After watching countless women walk home barefoot at the end of a long night in heels, New York University finance students Susie Levitt and Katie Shea started a company to make easily portable shoes. Working with contract designers and manufacturers in the U.S. and China, they created a pair of flats that fold up to fit into a pocket-sized zip pouch. When women pop on the shoes, the pouch unfurls into a tote bag to carry the high heels they just shed. The pair began selling CitySlips in 2009 and are now in 500 retailers, including Neiman Marcus, Dillard's, and Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY). Shea says they have broad appeal: “A 16-year-old leaving her senior prom will grab a pair of CitySlips and put them in her clutch bag, and then there’s my grandmother who will wear them leaving church." Launched with $15,000 in personal savings and a $100,000 private loan, CitySlips sells shoes that retail for $10 to $58, depending on the style and material. Shea says the company turned a profit in 2010 and now has about five independent sales reps, but Shea and Levitt remain the only full-time employees.
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