It was during cocktail hour on Nantucket, Mass., several years ago that entrepreneur Susan Hassett came up with the idea of creating a line of sophisticated women’s sneakers that would cover occasions from weekend to eveningwear. “Men were confidently wearing sneakers out and to work,” said Hassett, founder of Cocktail Sneakers. “Why weren’t women doing it?”
The collection, which launched in June, is built on a sleek silhouette featuring an elegant almond-shaped toe and thin outsole. “I wanted a more refined, feminine style for work and after hours,” she said of targeting stay-at-home moms to lawyers. “It’s about an effortlessly chic lifestyle.”
Since Hassett had no prior footwear training, she tapped a team of female designers in Brooklyn, N.Y. Next, she headed to China, where she located a factory owned and run by a woman who shared her vision. To get the word out, she hired an all-female branding and development firm.
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Initially self-funding the venture, Hassett has since been joined by two investors, also women. “We’re in an exciting time for women,” said Hassett, who once ran her own teleconferencing company before selling it to raise her two now-grown sons. “We can lead extraordinarily full lives, balancing careers, family, friendship and volunteerism.”
While styling was a top priority for Hassett, as a baby boomer, comfort was equally important. The sneakers are detailed in supple leather, while the leather-lined removable insoles are made of memory foam with a deep heel cup. Since the collection does not come in half sizes, a cork footbed is included with each pair, which can easily be layered under the foam insole for a more personalized fit.
The collection includes four styles: Outsider, a bootie; Weekender, a cap-toe lace-up style; Professional, a slip-on; and Occasion, a lace style suitable for wedding wear. Each pair comes with cloth dust bags. Retail prices range from $195 to $225. The collection is available on Cocktailsneakers.com and at select boutiques.
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