Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in shoes but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Tamara Sowa, COO of Friendly Shoes, located in San Diego, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Friendly Shoes is an adaptive footwear company with shoes for men, women, and children. We provide shoes that are easier and quicker to put on, regardless of ability, with a discreet and patented zipper technology that allows the wearer independence and dignity. We specialize in footwear for seniors and anyone with an adaptive challenge (autism, down syndrome, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's, arthritis, edema, obesity, paralysis, etc.)

Tell us about yourself

I've worked in the footwear industry for 16 years, first in a retail capacity and then as a buyer for mid to high-end European comfort brands for six stores in Southern California for nearly 13 years. I've since transitioned to wholesale in the past three years. I cannot imagine working in any other industry, and providing shoes to those who struggle with footwear is something I take very seriously. If your feet hurt, it creates a myriad of other challenges, and I take pride in the ability to fit customers in shoes that won't destroy their feet and cause pain.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Helping grow Friendly Shoes upwards of 300% in YOY from 2020 to 2021.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

Currently: circumventing endless supply chain hiccups to meet delivery expectations of major retailers.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Be persistent in every facet.
  2. Be optimistic and don't lose sight of the end goal.
  3. Be patient; sometimes, it's part of the long game.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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