We talked to Laina Gossman, Founder, and CEO of Soul Insole a small, flexible orthotic insert that makes a BIG difference in the way your shoes feel and here is what she said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Laina Gossman: Thankfully, all of my family members and I have maintained good health throughout this year during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Soul Insole.
Laina Gossman: I worked in orthotic design, hand-making custom orthotics for many years, and in school, I studied kinesiology & biomechanics. After exhausting every other resource, including doctors, $500 custom orthotics, surgeries, people came to me with their serious foot ailments. My designs worked. I wanted to help more people than I could by individually hand-carving, so I founded Soul Insole and began to have my insole designs manufactured on a larger scale. Now I’m able to help tens of thousands of people each year, and it feels great to be able to make such a big difference in people’s lives.
How does Soul Insole innovate?
Laina Gossman: Rather than the common practice of taking a mold of a foot that has problems, sending that mold to a lab to create a custom insole that is essentially a copy of the bottom of the foot that has problems, we create specific geometries to support the feet, offload pressure and softly guide the feet into where “normal” should be. We have also developed unique materials for our insoles that are soft yet supportive, washable, and re-usable, and non-porous so that they will not cause your shoes to stink.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Laina Gossman: The coronavirus pandemic had some negative effects on our sales toward the beginning of 2020. Many of the comfort shoe stores that carry our insoles were closed to the public. It has been hard to see an industry like the comfort shoe retail store industry take another hit as these stores have already been suffering over the recent years. At Soul Insole, we all already worked remote, so there wasn’t much that changed in that arena. Later in the year, things started picking up for us with online sales. We’ve been very fortunate. More people started purchasing online, and we have grown a lot now over the past year. With less time spent commuting, I think that many people who are currently working from home have had more time to spend with their family and more time to focus on improving their overall health. So many people have started researching their foot ailments, and through the grapevine, they have stumbled upon Soul Insole, giving us a chance to assist in their goals of getting outside and walking without pain.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Laina Gossman: We had an opportunity at the beginning of the year to take on a new marketing partner, but it was also a big risk as a large investment would be needed to get started. We went through many meetings, and there was a lot of paperwork involved. It was a difficult decision as it can be hard to trust. With careful consideration, I agreed to the terms. Thankfully these partners have been authentically hardworking and highly skilled. They followed through on their end of the agreement, and we have built a wonderful business relationship.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Laina Gossman: Zoom has become a very useful tool for holding video conferences since we have not been driving to meet with clients during this time. Google Drive and Basecamp have also been very helpful for remote collaboration.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Laina Gossman: There are many competitors in the footcare arena, including big-name brands like Dr. Scholls, Aetrex, and Foot Petals. We plan to do more than “stay in the game.” We continue to grow and push forward in creating innovative solutions for foot health to improve people’s comfort and quality of life.
Your final thoughts?
Laina Gossman: My heart goes out to all individuals and incredible businesses that have suffered greatly through this unexpected pandemic. It’s been such a rollercoaster of a year, and I hope that we can soon all get back to a place of comfort, stability, safety, and security.
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