Dana Ward is not only one amazingly talented lady at creating engaging digital content, but she also managed to create a NEW category in beauty/health: a spray-on product that actually prevents you from getting blisters on your feet! As soon as I heard about PreHeels, I knew it was going to be a huge success and I had to talk to Dana about all things PreHeels and building a product from scratch :)
Tell us a little about your background.
My background is in digital media and content creation. I was part of the founding team at Clevver Media when the company started producing video content, predominately on YouTube around the time that the platform launched the ad rev sharing partner program. In the early days, we all wore many hats while building an internet video model for the then nascent medium, but I wound up specializing in producing, hosting and managing branded content. I found a way to use my journalism degree from USC Annenberg in a way that was innovative at the time.
What inspired you to create PreHeels?
After covering countless red carpets – often times in heels that would give me blisters all over my feet – I realized that there needed to be an actual solution to the problem. Between my own shoe-caused irritation and the countless stories that I had exchanged with fellow women (and men included!), my co-founder Adam Kolom and I knew that we were on to something. He took the lead on the R&D side, finding the best specialists to create our completely new concept as well as conducting separate research to weigh in on the formulation as we worked on the brand development and design which can be just as important to most consumers. We were human guinea pigs in the name of creating the most effective blister prevention product on the market, and I can confidently say that I’m very proud of this new product category we have created with PreHeels: an aerosolized spray that dries on your skin as a clear, durable barrier to block friction and thus prevent blisters and irritation from shoes.
Since the product just recently launched, what has been your biggest learning so far?
Every single moment is an opportunity to learn when you’re launching a new product or business. To me, the interesting aspect of entrepreneurship is probably what also makes it challenging: there’s no protocol or formulation to follow in order to build a “successful business.” There’s constant trial and error as well as mini celebrations and setbacks along the way. The biggest learning to date is that you can never be too clear with consumers. For example, you may have been proactive and answered every possible buyer question via your site, social media pages and specifically in your FAQ, but people will still ask those questions that you would have never even considered. I learned very quickly to be extremely specific with customers, vendors, contractors, etc. It can save a lot of time in the end – and that’s the one thing that’s always lacking when building a company!
Is there anything you wish you knew before you decided to create your own product?
Part of the fun of entrepreneurship is that you are constantly challenged and need to re-strategize on a regular basis. It’s probably better to not know how difficult it is to create a product on your own… otherwise, most people would never even take it on!
What’s been your biggest brand accomplishment to-date?
Overall, it has been so rewarding to see emails and posts from consumers who are obsessed with the product. There has been so much sacrifice and effort that we’ve poured into the creation of PreHeels in hopes of helping solve this pervasive (sometimes significant and definitely painful!) problem, so it feels good to read these stories of validation… especially seeing different people giving tips and recommendations to each other in the comments section of Facebook. Further, the consistent upward sales growth month to month that we’ve seen for PreHeels since launch is quite an accomplishment that should make the entire team very proud.
What advice do you have for other women who want to create a product or business?
Be honest with yourself regarding if you believe in the product or business you’re creating. Further, ask yourself if you’re willing to really hustle on behalf of it. No one is going to work as hard for you AS YOU, so make sure that you’re a believer.
Name one businesswoman you admire and why?
I had the awesome opportunity to have lunch with Desiree Gruber recently. As the founder of powerhouse PR firm, Full Picture, in addition to leading large-scale productions, investing in innovative companies and inspiring philanthropy, she is an impressive human being. The proof is in the pudding, so to say, and her work and accomplishments are clearly out there to be seen. I have respect for her additionally because of the way that I’ve heard people speak so positively of Desiree for years. She truly is intelligent, savvy, collaborative and humble in the best way possible.
If you could have dinner with any three women (dead or alive) who would they be and why?
I don’t live in a fantasy land, so I’m choose three women with whom I would love to (actually in real life) have a long conversation over dinner.
Arianna Huffington because she is brilliant, well spoken, and I would love to hear about her personal experience building an empire as well as discuss current societal trends. Based on the topic matter of her latest book promotion, I’d like her to tell me that it’s OK to sleep more.
Adding in Kelly Ripa to the mix would be perfect; she seems like everyone’s best friend, so I could count on some laughs. Since she adores high heels and probably wears some of the coolest new styles to hit the market, I’d love to gift her with PreHeels and hopefully blow her mind.
For woman number three, Oprah for being the ultimate boss who created her business on her own, Adele for her ridiculous talents and hilarious comedic timing, Ellen for making this world a more connected, loving place?? Or maybe my other favorite one-named woman: Mom. I just don’t get to see my beautiful mother often enough and obviously, I need to have someone to talk with afterwards about this amazing dinner experience!
What’s a typical day like as an entrepreneur/creator of PreHeels?
Well, the entrepreneurial work day is not typical at all. Building your business requires that you work 24/7, especially because there’s no “user’s manual” to follow or a boss to preach protocol. While I usually start the day very early by answering customer questions (which come in all hours every day of the week), depending on what we are prioritizing as a company at that time, my work flow revolves around that. So in the earlier days of PreHeels, there was a lot of development surrounding the brand and our messaging as well as managing new vendors and team members… versus now that we have many of these items established, I’m can change my focus to other areas, such as video content creation for increased brand awareness and customer acquisition, retail meetings, press outreach, etc. Even when you’ve hired the best of the best to work with, it’s still important to oversee and make sure everyone sees the same vision for your company. To summarize: eat, breathe and (don’t) sleep PreHeels.
Read more Real Women Doing Real Things interviews HERE.