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Two former Goldman Sachs employees try to take their shoe accessories mainstream

  • Solemates' main product is a heel protector for high-heeled shoes.
  • DSW and David's Bridal already carry the heel protectors. Amazon and the Solemates' own website also sell them. Starting Friday, CVS will also carry them.
  • Becca Brown and Monica Ferguson developed the idea of Solemates for a final class project while pursuing master's degrees at Columbia Business School.

Solemates has become a hit among bridal parties and celebrities. The shoe accessory company could become even more mainstream when it enters CVS stores nationwide on Friday.

Solemates' main product is a heel protector for high-heeled shoes. Women who have worn heels to an outside wedding or other event have likely experienced the problem it was designed to solve: heels sinking into the grass. To distribute the pressure and prevent sinking, a plastic cap hugs the heel and flares out at the bottom to form a base.

Last year, the company added other products such as a balm meant to prevent blisters and shoe freshener.

The company's products have found other uses, too. Celebrities like Carrie Underwood and Viola Davis wear them while performing. Oprah Winfrey was one of Solemates' first customers.

Solemates heel protectors prevent high heels from sinking into grass.
Source: Solemates
Solemates heel protectors prevent high heels from sinking into grass.

DSW and David's Bridal already carry the heel protectors. Amazon, and the Solemates' own website also sells them. Expanding into CVS will give women even more opportunities to buy them.

"A lot of our customers typically need Solemates with short notice, so it's great to have accessibility," said Solemates co-founder Becca Brown. "Now, if woman has a wedding tomorrow, she can go to her local CVS and buy Solemates."

Brown and Monica Ferguson developed the idea of Solemates for a final class project while pursuing master's degrees at Columbia Business School. They submitted the assignment and returned to their jobs at Goldman Sachs.

The idea quickly took on a life of its own, Brown said. They decided they had to act because if they didn't, someone else would. So they quit their jobs to focus exclusively on Solemates.

Solemates' High Heelers are designed to protect high-heeled shoes.
Source: Solemates
Solemates' High Heelers are designed to protect high-heeled shoes.

They already had a concept and a business plan. They just needed a product. Neither had experience in developing one.

They turned to Google.

"The one thing we learned at Goldman [Sachs] we definitely continue to keep in mind is you don't always know the answer to everything, but you should always know who to go to for answers," Brown said.

They eventually found an engineer on ThomasNet, who helped them find an injection mold maker to create their signature heel protector. They tested their creation in 2011 and officially launched in 2012.

Monica Ferguson (left) and Becca Brown (right) developed the idea for Solemates in business school before quitting their jobs to pursue it full-time.
Source: Solemates
Monica Ferguson (left) and Becca Brown (right) developed the idea for Solemates in business school before quitting their jobs to pursue it full-time.

Brown and Ferguson appeared on "Shark Tank" last year. They signed a deal on-screen that fell through off-screen. Still, Brown said, being on the show helped the brand's visibility.

Now they're expanding into more than 4,000 CVS stores.

"We're committed to helping customers discover niche brands like SoleMates that can be difficult for them to find until they shop our aisles," said Maly Bernstein, vice president, merchandising, beauty and personal care at CVS Pharmacy

Next, they want to expand into other retailers. Potential targets could include Walgreens and Target, or even Sephora and Ulta, Brown said.

"We wouldn't have quit our jobs if we didn't think we could have made it successful, but we never could have predicted the timeline," Brown said. "We've been so, so lucky that we've been able to get the accomplishments we've been able to obtain."

Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."