Perhaps the turning point for the fledgling venture occurred in April 2011 when Prather and Hall decided to compete in the 100 Urban Entrepreneurs’ 60-Second Business Pitch at Howard University. The duo entered the competition only a week before the event. “Toni and I were up at 4 o’clock in the morning practicing our pitch,” recalls Prather. The two presented more of a skit than a pitch, in which they painted a picture of reactions they hear from women who visit the store.
That skit won over the audience and judges, and the duo won the competition—and the $10,000 and business coaching that come along with it. “We really don’t like it when people pitch in pairs, but these two people were so in sync that you could tell that they really had a partnership that worked,” recalls Magnus Greaves, CEO of TheCASHFLOW, who was a judge for the contest. “Also, they embodied their product. They’re tall women that needed these larger shoes, and they were just great ambassadors for their business and their brand.”
Perhaps just as important, winning the competition landed them valuable exposure: The duo has been featured on CNN, Black America Web, MSNBC, Fox, and NBC. Within a few months, the store generated $27,000 and is expected to finish the year at around $100,000. “We ran out of shoes because the demand got so high,” says the 27-year-old Prather. “So, right now, Toni and I are finding creative ways to keep people knowing about the store and to keep inventory in here.”
The duo hopes to grow the business to the point of having a physical presence in every major city, and are seeking out partnerships with the WNBA, celebrities looking to start a shoe line, as well as designers. Despite past setbacks, Prather is optimistic. “Well, you know, we’re entrepreneurs and we have that go-getter mindset in general, so we were able to adjust and make it happen and just kind of go with it.”