Here's What Went Down With Pashion Footwear After Shark Tank

Pain is the price women pay for wearing high heels, and for Haley Pavone, the cost simply got too high. According to a Forbes profile, one evening during her sophomore year, Pavone was on the dance floor with friends, dancing barefoot after she'd ditched her uncomfortable heels, when another woman accidentally stepped on her toe, impaling it with a stiletto heel. The excruciating experience gave Pavone the idea of creating a new type of heel. These aren't your mom's pumps. They're comfortable, convertible shoes that can transform from heels to flats and back in an instant. Pavone created Pashion Footwear right out of her dorm room in 2016 and enlisted the help of two other students to provide technical expertise to the design process. A few years later, Pavone pitched her company and its line of convertible shoes on Season 12, Episode 14 of Shark Tank, which aired in 2021.

In a video on Pashion Footwear's YouTube channel, the CEO/founder described how the pain caused by wearing high heels for long durations leaves women with no choice but to pack a backup pair of flats in their bags, or else they end up walking barefoot at the end of a long day. "High heels have been made fundamentally the same way for 200 years, yet the lives of women have evolved a lot in just the past 20," she added.

Pashion Footwear's monthly expenses left most of the Sharks uninterested

Walking into Shark Tank, Pavone's goal was to receive a $500,000 investment in exchange for a 5% stake in her company. She revealed to the Sharks she had already raised a total of $2.5 million in investment and still owned 83% of her company. She also disclosed that Pashion Footwear had already made $500,000 in net sales online since its establishment, adding that they have low overhead costs due to the lack of a physical store. 

Her demonstration of how a twist of the wrist can remove a high heel and turn a shoe into a flat one delighted the female investors. However, the company's monthly expense of $90,000 yet having only three months' worth of funds (about $250,000) in cash had most of the Sharks declining Pavone's offer. Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner noted, too, that the equity she offered was small. Guest investor Kendra Scott also gave her observation that the shoes felt "very strange" to walk in. Only Kevin O'Leary showed interest, but in addition to the 5% stake, he wanted a $5 royalty for every unit sold until he recoups a million dollars. Pavone said she'd rather have every dollar be used to grow the business, though she tried to close the deal by offering as much as $3 in royalties. When O'Leary refused to receive anything less than $5, Pavone bowed out, believing it was best for the business to stick to her conviction.

Customers love Pashion Footwear's solution to high-heel woes

Although Pashion Footwear didn't secure anything on Shark Tank, it received $1.5 million in funding in February 2020, according to CrunchBase. It wasn't just investors that were impressed by its innovative shoes, which feature a removable heel-and-sole support and a flexible mid-sole so they can go from heels to flats and back easily. Netsuite reported that sales grew by 450% in 2021, propelled by Pavone's appearance on the show. The CEO shared even more good news on her Instagram account in April: "We have utility patents in the US, the EU, and China. We've raised over $4 million in funding (with $250,000 of that coming directly from our happy customers). We've posted our first three months of profit ([and we're] on the heels of [month number four])."

True to Pavone's statement in Shark Tank that Pashion Footwear intends to disrupt the women's footwear market, it has made its removable heels swappable too so shoppers can customize their height, shape, and design. Even with its price tags ranging from $155 for a pair of slides to $315 for knee-length boots, Pashion Footwear continues to enjoy organic customer support, having 162,000 followers on Instagram and nearly 222,000 on TikTok. Pavone shared with Kingscrowd her hopes of launching the brand "in a major US retailer" and expanding its bridal market this year. To quote her Instagram post, "Not too bad for an 'impossible shoe' in a 'bad time for fashion' with a 'green founder.'"