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Harbert graduate Lydia Pass, with the help of the New Venture Accelerator program, launches her business Stelona Shoes in order to provide a customizable shoe-shopping experience to women.
Editor’s note: The Harbert College of Business is committed to developing a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem for students, faculty, industry and alumni that will fuel new venture creation and promote diversity among new entrepreneurs in today’s business world. In recognition of Women Entrepreneurship Week 2021, below is one of four stories showcasing women who are recent Auburn University graduates and have launched their business ideas with help from the New Venture Accelerator program.
“It’s no secret that shoes are a love language for women.”
Lydia Pass, Harbert graduate and CEO of Stelona Shoes
Lydia Pass earned her Auburn degree in 2019 and wasted no time jumping into the business world, becoming the founder and chief executive officer of her own shoe company based in Birmingham.
“I am the full-time CEO of Stelona Shoes, and then I work as a bridal consultant at Bellas Bridal in Birmingham on the weekends,” Pass said, having graduated with a degree in Apparel Design and Production.
During her brainstorming about what to do with her ideas for a shoe company, she turned to the Harbert College of Business for insight on how the business side of things work. That landed her in Harbert’s New Venture Accelerator program, which led to the birth of Stelona Shoes.
“Stelona Shoes exists to cater to the unaddressed needs in the women's footwear industry. This past month we launched our focus group for our ‘Made To Order’ line to test the size and fit on over 20 women, and the overall feedback has been so positive,” Pass said. “This line allows women to design, choose their size, width, style, material, and even details on the insole like arch support or extra cushioning.”
Stelona Shoes offers a range of shoe customizability for women that is unique to its products.
And unlike many custom-design shoe operations, Stelona Shoes keeps everything it produces close to home.
“Stelona is the solution to many issues that the footwear industry doesn't address because it is too expensive to address them with overseas manufacturers,” she said. “By utilizing high technology and local engineering facilities in Birmingham, we are creating a just-in-time manufacturing process that is efficient with little to no inventory; eliminates traditional tooling, which is a barrier to entry for footwear companies; and can address the needs of women without high cost to us or to our customers.
“All of our suppliers are in the United States, the manufacturing process is in Birmingham, and our turn-around time from prototype to ready-to-ship is less than the time it takes for a footwear company to receive samples from China.”
Stelona Shoes hopes to offer comfortable yet fashionable shoes to suit women's needs.
Pass started pursuing the idea of Stelona during her senior year at Auburn and after exploring different areas of the fashion industry, she founded Stelona Shoes in 2020.
She hired another Auburn graduate, Josie Tapp, in March 2021. Tapp has a degree in marketing.
“It is no secret that shoes are a love language for women, but the current offering is inconvenient, causing mundane issues,” Pass said in an earlier interview. “Our mission is to create innovation through inspiration.
“This drives our product development and has shaped our brand message to never stop dreaming big.”
Thanks to help from the New Venture Accelerator program, that dream has a jumpstart.
The New Venture Accelerator is a partnership between Auburn’s Harbert College of Business and the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation. Learn more about the New Venture Accelerator and Auburn’s entrepreneurial offerings.