Founder/CEO of Pashion Footwear: Haley Pavone, SLO, CA USA

“The COVID experience, as well as just the entire entrepreneurial journey in general, has taught me that resilience is the true key to success. When you really think about it – the only thing all successful people have in common is that they never give up. Every person and business has challenges…it is the resilient ones that end up ‘making it’.” 

Haley Pavone

[Editor’s Note: This interview was originally conducted on May 28th, 2020]

When Haley Pavone was a junior in college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, she founded her own shoe company: Pashion Footwear. Pashion — a combination of “practical + fashion” — was inspired by a “high-heel accident” at a date event in college, when Haley removed her own painful high heels for dancing barefoot, only to be impaled in the foot by another girl’s stiletto heel.

In just two years Haley assembled a team of footwear experts, experienced advisors and dedicated student entrepreneurs from Cal Poly. Together they designed and engineered this innovative mechanism, raised a seed round of funding, obtained patent-pending status in 30 countries, sourced overseas manufacturing, and obtained the first samples of these beautiful and fully-functioning convertible high heels.

As COVID has been ravaging the global economy, the company just celebrated its one-year anniversary date since officially launching. Since launching, they continue their goal of uniting women in “all walks of life” and work to create a community of women across the world who embrace “doing it all” with comfort, style, and practicality. Women can go from the conference room to the dance floor with just one pair of these classy high-heels….

Now, almost four years later, Haley is proud to be working as the company’s full-time CEO and running operations from the Pashion’s headquarters in San Luis Obispo. Her goals are to grow this company and become a major name in the footwear space — hopefully changing the game for women’s footwear, forever!

Haley discusses the challenges she’s been facing running her own company during the global pandemic. She compares the experience to an entrepreneurial voyage, stressing the importance of “never giving up” even as she’s facing halted business investor relations, dealing with the company’s supply chain being shut down which has delayed their summer order by three months — and emphasizes the importance of self-care during these trying times (which includes organizing your closet, shoes and all).

Read more in Haley’s COVID Chronicle, below:

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced during quarantine/the COVID crisis?

“COVID has been a real mixed bag for us. COVID completely shut down our entire supply chain for over three months – delaying our summer order, and also made it virtually impossible to find new investors for our business. This of course put a great deal of stress on us financially which we could have never anticipated.

Luckily, the switch to online shopping that COVID spurred has been beneficial for us – allowing us to grow our monthly revenues by over 300% since January. We are optimistic that we can continue to keep pushing this growth as the market returns!”

Is there anything you feel that this experience has taught you that you’d like to share as inspiration?

“The COVID experience, as well as just the entire entrepreneurial journey in general, has taught me that resilience is the true key to success. When you really think about it – the only thing all successful people have in common is that they never give up. Every person and business has challenges…it is the resilient ones that end up ‘making it’.” 

Courtesy of @pashionfootwear

Has this experience in any way changed the way that you order your priorities in life?  I’m definitely putting a heavier emphasis on self care!

“This opportunity to slow down a bit really highlighted for me how much stress I take on on a daily basis, as well as the extreme lack of “me” time in my day-to-day life. Although COVID has been stressful in its own right, being able to take a step back for a minute has served as a good reminder that there is more to do in life than work nonstop. A new priority for me is certainly giving myself time to de-stress and just be a 24-year-old for a minute every once in a while!” 

Where are you living right now? Is this where you permanently reside or is it a temporary living situation due to the pandemic? Who have you been quarantining with?

“I live permanently in San Luis Obispo, CA. I’ve felt very lucky to be here throughout the pandemic as the county was not hit nearly as severely as most other areas, so we’ve been able to continue to go to the beach and out for hikes throughout all this. I’ve been quarantining with my boyfriend, Justin.”

What has been your general daily routine so far during the pandemic?

Sleep in (some self care!), work from home for the majority of the afternoon (lots of zoom calls!), then do a virtual kickboxing workout before going on a sunset walk with my boyfriend. Then end the evening either watching a movie with Justin, or binge watching one of our two favs – “Jack Ryan” or “Gossip Girl”!

Courtesy of @pashionfootwear

What have you been doing to keep your spirits up on a day-to-day basis?

“Self-care (face masks, baths, meditating, etc), knocking off those sticky to-do items (cleaning & reorganizing my entire closet!), as much social interaction as possible (quality time with the boyfriend, FaceTiming with friends), and getting my body moving (preferably in fresh air!).”

Has this travel ban/quarantine situation impacted any important plans you had laid out for the near future?

“Yes — I had a couple much-needed vacations on the horizon that all had to be cancelled 😦 Took me three and a half years to muster the courage to book a vacation, and of course it got cancelled! Oh well, we will try again later.

On the business front, the situation also shut down our supply chain and delayed our summer order by three months which was certainly not ideal for our goals for the year…but we hope we can make up for lost time!”

Follow Pashion’s journey on Instagram at @pashionfootwear

Anything else at all, you’d like to share?

“Be sure to check out our summer release of new footwear in July!! We appreciate any and all support as we keep our heads up throughout this time :)”

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