September 18th, 2019
Maureen Stockton is the founder and creator of Formé Comfort. Previously developing products alongside Mattel and Disney, her new venture has fixed a problem in women’s fashion most consumers don’t believe is even possible to fix. That is, making fashionable women’s shoes comfortable.
What Is Formé Comfort?
Her unique patented design is inserted into your favorite fashion-forward footwear, customizing the fit by stretching it without damage. Launching the company wasn’t easy, however. Stockton explained existing shoe customizing solutions were nearly 100 years old, and although they worked decently for men’s shoes, the design differences in women’s shoe design posed a problem.
It turns out, using a traditional shoe stretching “tree” designed for men’s shoes, does a fair amount of damage. Men’s dress shoes are mostly thick heavy leather and robust materials, therefore they can withstand aggressive pushing and pulling. The design and materials women’s shoes use, however, don’t hold up to this particular method of shaping. Her solution fills this gap for ladies’ shoes.
Formé Comfort’s design accommodates the arch of women’s heels, and the shape of the toe box without damaging the design, shape, or materials used. It worked, because the company has seen $900,000 in sales in just 18 months, with all transactions profitable. There are a few lessons she learned in this process. I’ll just call these Maureen Stockton’s rules for success.
Oh, and by the way, you’ll have to listen to the interview to know why the Hollywood movie, Chef (Jon Favreau) actually built her company. (You’ll never believe this)
Maureen Stockton’s Three Rules for Success
#1 Great Manufacturers Yield Great Design
Maureen Stockton, rule 1 is making sure you hire great manufacturers. This is key to develop a profitable company. In her previous work, she recalled the temptation to use less experienced, or cheaper partners and the pain that caused. She explained most people just assume companies will deliver on their promises, especially larger entities, but picking someone with experience, with a good track record is a must, even if they are pricier.
#2 Pick The Right Designer
Maureen Stockton, rule 2 is to use the right designer. It would make sense (at least to me) to hire a product designer that makes beautiful products, but she intentionally found a product designer that hadn’t previously worked on disposable items. She wanted longevity and quality built-in from the first time she saw a model real product model.
#3 Try The Shoes
Maureen Stockton, rule 3 is to get in the mud and actually surround yourself with the problem. Dealing with a group of male designers who didn’t truly understand why women’s shoes were so uncomfortable, she bought them all a pair, and asked the men with wives to ask good questions and ask about her experience.
The Japanese refer to this as genchi genbutsu, or “go look, go see.” It’s easy to get caught up in the data, but sometimes the best solution lies in simply experiencing the problem, first hand, for yourself.
Learn More About Maureen Stockton
Maureen Stockton is a Los Angeles native and UCLA graduate with a successful 25+ year track record as an entrepreneur.
Before Formé, she spent time at JAKKS Pacific Inc., the publicly traded toy company, where she created $250MM+ in new revenue through innovative products and new retail merchandising techniques. Subsequently, she created and launched a new category of children’s holiday decorating products under the Disney Princess and Barbie brands. Collectively, these products generated $20MM+ in retail sales.
More Entrepreneur Interviews
UPDATE: Check out Maureen’s WSJ Profile