Laura Oden is the founder and CEO of
a startup that has created expandable shoes. Pandere Shoes launched in June 2016 and is headquartered in Anchorage, Alaska. Learn more about Laura and her company by reading our interview below.
Tell us a little about Pandere Shoes? What inspired you to start the company?
Well, I’ve had a condition called lymphedema for most of my adult life. It made it really hard to find shoes that fit. I began to connect with other people who had the same problem. It became very apparent early on that there was a huge opportunity for someone to solve a big problem. I met my business partners at a Start Up Weekend event, and we’ve been having fun creating this company and developing a shoe company from the ground up.
How is Pandere Shoeshelp changing the world?
We are making the first shoes expand to accommodate any shape or volume feet. When people can’t find shoes to wear it really impacts their lives in ways that are unimaginable. We get letters regularly with people telling us their stories and encouraging us to keep going. This problem can have devastating effects and inhibit mobility and basic health, not to mention self-esteem and confidence. Everyone has a right to have comfortable cute shoes that fit! Pandere shoes will give people their lives back.
What are some challenges you’ve faced?
When we first started, it seemed impossible that we would spend two years developing our prototypes. We are grateful for that process because we have learned a lot about the shoe making process. Conveying to our designers the unique needs of our customers was a big challenge and we learned that this is a hard problem to tackle. This is most likely the reason other companies haven’t addressed this problem. Expansion and support are naturally in opposition to each other. It’s not exactly low hanging fruit for a shoe company.
What’s been your biggest win so far?
We won a lot of contests and that was great validation. But the biggest win is hearing how excited our customers are about the product we’ve been developing. When we get our shoes on people it’s amazing to hear their reaction. That’s when we know we’re on the right track.
How do you define success?
When we reach 100,000 pairs of shoes annually, we are all going to feel like we have done a great thing and are making people’s lives better.