Small Business Spotlight: SantM, Functional Luxury Footwear

We are living in unprecedented times. Hopefully you are reading this while staying safe, healthy, and optimistic knowing that we will get through this crisis and emerge even stronger than before.

In light of the current challenges we are all facing, we wanted to shift the focus to something positive:  the energy and passion that all founders, entrepreneurs, and small business owners possess. With close to 30 million small businesses in the United States, it is this collective energy that fuels our economy. Small businesses are an anchor of the US economy. 

Over the next few weeks, we will feature some of the small businesses and brands that we know and love. We hope this series sheds some light on the amazing spirit and strength of small businesses, and gives us all some comfort in knowing that with this spirit and strength, we will prevail. 

First up in our Spotlight Series is SantM.

Who are you?

Min Santandrea, Founder/CEO of SantM

What is your business?

SantM is a functional luxury/comfort chic/handmade in Italy footwear brand.    

Why and when did you start this business?

On a personal level, I didn’t want to carry a second pair of shoes, buy beautiful shoes but couldn’t walk in them, and have to compromise fashion for comfort.  I have over 150 (non SantM) pairs of shoes but wear 4 the same pairs. 

From business point of view, the shoe market is one of the most competitive and saturated markets but extremely “dumb-belled” from price and product. Average luxury shoes sell for $1200 or mass brand at $100. Either 100mm stelios or athleisure shoes. As a working woman, I saw a market opportunity for sensible, greatest quality shoes that delivered comfort and style. I also wanted to work with and support artisanal/craftsmanship which is not appreciated enough in the fast fashion world. 

What is your FAVORITE part of your job as a founder/small business owner?

I have two: 1. Having the unlimited creative freedom to drive the business without compromising SantM’s voice 2. Learning from other entrepreneurs, industry leaders and our clients.

What is the most DIFFICULT part of your job as an founder/small business owner?

Emotional roller-coaster.  When you are so tied to the business, you take everything to the heart. The highs are extremely fave is a great customer feedback. The lows are extremely low...not meeting your sales goal or your factory is temporary closed due to a pandemic.

What SHOES are you wearing right now (no judgement!)? 

Naked feet...week 2 of quarantine.  We are a no shoes house. I learned so much about feet wellness from podiatrists we worked with that I started doing feet exercises. Naked feet are great for stretches while I work...always trying to multitask. 

What's the best piece of advice you've received as an entrepreneur/business owner?

COURAGE. Move forward. If you get knocked down, get up twice as fast. I was an amateur boxer and an inside fighter because of my height (short people = shorter reach) for my weight class. An inside fighter is a boxer who likes to get in close to their opponent and tries to overwhelm their opponent with short and powerful punches but in the process you have to get punched once or twice in order to land 10 punches. It is a bit against human instinct to head towards someone punching you but that’s how you win.  

How are you managing during this COVID19 pandemic?  

It is quite difficult since our factory is in Italy. I have been in contact with them everyday to see how we can help even if it is sending a box of rubber gloves.  From a business perspective, we are taking this time to learn and share with our clients. We are launching “Tell it Straight Tuesday” where our ladies can share their thoughts on various topics, “From the Experts” where we are featuring my designer to his teacher “Prince of Shoes” Ernesto Esposito to Amy the founder of clean nail beauty Sundays Studios who shares DIY gel polish removal, and “Create Your Own Shoes” for those who want to test their creativity while locked in our houses.    

What’s one thing you’re doing during this COVID19 crisis that’s helping to keep your sanity?

READ (Bill Gates book club and my art history books), CLEAN (Going through travels, celebrations and friends pictures)  and GOOD AMOUNT of good vino - current favorite are Sicilian reds. 


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