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Like many working mothers today, Ada Duran’s been busy navigating through the challenges presented by COVID-19. However, the Long Island, N.Y., teacher who recently turned shoe entrepreneur, has found a bright spot during the chaos. Sales of her women’s shoe business, In-a-gruv, continue to spike as consumers increasingly turn to online shopping.
“Starting out in the shoe business, it was very difficult for me to juggle being a single mother, teacher and entrepreneur,” said Duran, who debuted her line of interchangeable footwear in May 2019. “It seemed as though I worked double last summer pushing my brand than I have this year. COVID hit, and it allowed me to reimagine how I was doing things, and that it didn’t have to be so difficult. Thanks to the pandemic, I am seeing an abundance of online sales. Selling shoes has never been easier.”
Early on, Duran, who self-funded the venture and operated on a limited budget, was forced to get creative when it came to marketing. “Last year, most of my sales were done in person,” she said. “I’d drive to boutiques on the weekends, participate in pop-up shops, and host shoe parties to promote it.”
However, as online sales began organically increasing, Duran seized the opportunity to increase the brand’s connection with consumers and create an easier shopping experience. Duran added Afterpay to her e-commerce site that allows interest-free payments, while also promoting new brands to followers on their app and website. She also tapped her Shopify’s analytics which noted most new customers were coming via Facebook, pushing her to increase her advertising with the social media site.
“[Because of] the pandemic, 85% of my sales have been online and require less physical labor and time,” said Duran, who also added an Amazon sellers account in addition to joining Tik Tok. And while e-commerce is now her main focus, she continues to wholesale the line to about 30 boutiques.
The new outreach has paid off. According to Duran, overall sales have increased 105% year-to-date, fueled in part by a feature on Spanish language TV network Univision’s Despiérta America, which generated sales for Duran, herself a Latin American, from as far away as Puerto Rico.
It’s the brand’s unique approach to shoe design that has hit a chord with consumers, looking for more bang for their buck in today’s uncertain economy. Its single sandal style, retailing for $60, is designed to accommodate a range of interchangeable uppers, retailing from $14-$22, that allow for multiple looks with just one shoe. According to Duran, she’s now working on additional silhouettes that include a flat, a look she said her fellow teachers recently voted for.
“I’m more grateful now than I have ever been for my shoe company because it gives me a different outlet, a source of income and freedom that’s not available to my colleagues in education,” said Duran.