Sandy Saccullo | Founder, OneClique

"I would say my experiences in the mommy world better prepared me for entrepreneurship than my corporate world experiences. Tolerance, patience, paying constant attention to something, being pulled in difference directions, multi-tasking—if you can stay somewhat sane raising children, you can do anything (emphasis is on somewhat)."

How do you start your day?

Hitting snooze.  Then hitting it again.  And again.


Who inspires you?

My eight year-old daughter.  She has such a strong sense of self.  I love it.


What would you tell yourself as a teenager?

Save your clothes.  The 90s are coming back in 20 years.


What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Follow the crumbs.  Take the tiniest of actions—even if they seem insignificant, they do eventually start adding up—and keep moving forward.


What do you need to get you through each day?

Perspective. And coffee.


What are you reading?

The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer. It’s a pretty incredible story and completely inspiring.


Briefly describe your business and inspiration for it.

A few years ago I went into my closet to choose a pair of shoes to wear to an event.  I wanted the upper of one pair, but wanted a different style heel. I thought to myself, “Why can’t we change the style of our shoes without needing to buy an entirely new pair?”  We don’t have the same versatility with our shoes as we do with our clothes. I can buy a pair of jeans and wear them with a sweater, tank, or blouse…why can’t we have that same type of style freedom with our shoes?  I decided to pursue it. Fast-forward a few years and we are now launching our collection of Shoe Separates this spring exclusively at oneclique.com.


How has your passion fueled your business?

I am passionate about getting our product to the market. Every time a woman sees our shoes, and what they actually do, her mouth drops open—those are the moments that keep me going.


What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?

It wasn’t a decision I even realized I was making.  I had been home with my children for five years and was starting to think about work again.  I knew I could get a 9-5 job in my previous industry,  but I wanted to pursue my “shoe idea” and liked the idea of working for myself—which would allow some flexibility in regards to my children.


I didn’t know anything about the fashion industry so I decided to get an internship. Stefani, my One Clique partner, who had been styling fashion segments for the Today Show for many years, hired me.  I was working a few days a week, which was a great transition for the kids and me. Within 18 months I was working full-time to bring One Clique to life. It all happened really organically. In the beginning, many of the important pieces fell into place pretty seamlessly, which gave me the confidence to move forward as an entrepreneur.  One of the biggest motivators was when Stefani saw what I was working on and decided to switch careers and become my full time partner!


What was the tipping point for realizing you had a good business?

Once my first-stage prototype was complete, I met with a shoe industry executive. That meeting catapulted me into the next stage of my business. He had told me he had seen people try to do this before, but had never seen it done in this way—where the fashion of the shoe was not compromised. He not only encouraged me to bring the product to market, but also introduced me to a shoe manufacturer who became my first investor. To say it was an exciting time would be an understatement; it was definitely the tipping point.


What has been the key to your success?

Persistence, enthusiasm and passion.  Communication and building relationships has also been key.  In addition, surrounding myself with people who know what I don’t know.


What lessons have you learned along the way that you wish you would have known at the beginning of your start-up career?  

Don’t spend time or money on any other part of the business until your product is perfect.


What challenges did you face in the early days of being the Founder of your own business?

That there were not enough hours in the day. It was hard to stay balanced with work life and family life.


What is the biggest mistake you have made in your business to date and how have you moved past it? 

When planning our budget and doing our financial model, we didn’t account for anything to go wrong. But then we moved past it by restructuring our budget and raising additional capital.


What would you have done differently?

If I could do it over, I would sit down with my team and decide what the worst case scenario could be within the next 12-18 months. Then figure out what it would cost us to recover from it, and work that number into our budget.


What is the biggest challenge you have had in your business to date and how did you pull through it?  

Working alongside a production timeline that wasn’t realistic.  We had to slow everything down and put certain parts of our business on hold.


When self-doubt hits, what do you do?

Call Stef. We are in the same boat so it helps to lean on each other and talk through things.  I also have really supportive family and friends who are always cheering me on. In addition, I love reading about other entrepreneurs and their stories.  It’s always comforting to know others have walked the same path and have forged ahead regardless of the self-doubt.


What is your biggest fear as an entrepreneur?

Letting down my team. I always want to do right by them and by what we have created together.


What aspects of being a start-up entrepreneur do you love and/or dislike?

Fundraising covers both the love and the hate!  I love it because I really enjoy meeting new people and talking to them about One Clique. The part of it that I don’t like is how it takes me away from the day to day of the business.


Are there any go-to resources that you have found useful to run your business (service, web site, etc.)? 

We use Google Docs to share documents and collaborate internally.  Hoot Suite has been helpful for organizing/planning our social media and Mail Chimp for newsletters.


What has been your best strategy for selling your product or service and what have you learned along the way?

We are still a pre-revenue company, with a successful market test in 2014/2015.  Newsletters and social media drove traffic to our site along with press.  Spreading awareness through all channels  (friends, family, press, social media, events) about your product or service is always a great strategy.


How did your experiences in the corporate world prepare you for entrepreneurship, or not?

I would say my experiences in the mommy world better prepared me for entrepreneurship than my corporate world experiences. Tolerance, patience, paying constant attention to something, being pulled in different directions, multi-tasking—if you can stay somewhat sane raising children, you can do anything (emphasis is on somewhat).


What do you think the most important attribute a female entrepreneur/ business owner can possess?  

Stay open to change. I think it’s important to be able to change directions and adapt quickly to the market, and to valuable feedback, for example.


What do you do outside the office to help you stay creative/productive?  

I try to take some time for myself and clear my mind, even if it’s at night after the kids go to bed.  Reading a magazine, listening to music, binge watching a few Netflix shows; it’s hard for me to turn everything off —especially work—but when I do, I’ve found it to be really helpful in terms of maintaining productivity long term.


What would you say to another woman who asked you if they should take the leap and start their own business? 

Go for it! And be willing to fail. Once I realized I would survive failing, I was able to move forward and take the risk of bringing my idea to life.

image164