In a lot of ways Tara Haughton is just your average 16-year-old. She's saving for a car, hangs out with her girlfriends on the weekends and is totally looking forward to the freedom of college. But Christian Louboutin might argue that she's anything but a typical teen.
Tara Houghton, CEO of Rosso Solini
As the President and CEO of Rosso Solini
, Haughton designs and sells colored stickers that attach to the bottom of high heels. While Louboutin said she's got "great entrepreneurial skills" at an Irish press conference a few weeks back, he also joked that they might run into problems in the future. At $25 for a pair of three, Rosso Solinis' red soles are one twentieth the price of Louboutin's famed shoes ... which is exactly Haughton's point. Her idea was to bring the designer-sole look to women of all walks of life. And she's succeeding.
We talked to Tara last week about her accomplishments, why she'd rather meet Jimmy Choo rather than Christian Louboutin (because Choo wouldn't be mad at her, of course) and how she just gave her dad his first day off since November. Needless to say, we learned a thing or two about how to run a business from this savvy teen. Step one -- you need a great idea. Tara's came less than a year ago.
"Last summer we were away at a family wedding in Spain and for a group photo, we had to throw red confetti. And where I had taken the price sticker off my shoe was still sticky and when I threw it up, it got stuck to the bottom of my shoe. And later that night a woman asked me if was I wearing Louboutin's because she had seen the flash of red as I was walking."
And that's when you knew you were gonna be rich?
"That's when I caught that it was stuck to the bottom of my shoes. And kinda from there realized that you could do something with something red to give a designer look at a low cost. It was really simple, and it works!"
Red soles from Rosso Solini
Luckily Haughton had time on her hands to take her idea to the next level. Her stroke of genius hit during a gap year at her high school, a time when students are encouraged to make their own companies and learn about business. So Haughton gathered up some friends, fired up the Google translate (she typed in "red soles" to get the Italian, Rosso Solini), and with help and guidance from her father and teachers, took her idea to Irish manufacturers.
"3M is the company we use. We went to them and they showed us different stickers that would work to stay on the bottom of a shoe and from there we took a few samples and when we seen how well they stuck and stuff, we just decided to go with it straight away."
Tara's dad, Chris Haughton, works for Tara full time, but like any good employee, gives the boss 100 percent of the credit.
"Tara is incredibly involved in every aspect. She monitors everything. She can be good to work for sometimes. She's a hard boss, she doesn't give you Saturday or Sunday off. It's a seven day week!"
Can't you ground her if she does that to you?
"Actually, to be perfectly honest, she's giving me the day off tomorrow. It's the first one I've had since November," Chris laughs, "so I'm eternally grateful to her."
With orders from all over the world, it's no surprise Tara's working her friends and family to the bone. Orders just keep on coming.
Soles with soul from Rosso Solini
Chris explains that they can never guess where their next P.O. is coming from.
"For some reason, certain parts of the States have embraced us wholly. We're selling obscure soles like yellows and pinks, must be to go with all the Hawaiian shirts they have out there. And Florida just seemed to embrace polka dots for some reason."
"We had done a run of the Union Jack into the U.K. just before the royal wedding, and for the Olympics, we have two major retailers looking at taking the Union Jack (soles) because they believe that it would be a huge product in the U.K."
So Tara, does all this talk about shipments, deliveries, product placements, and of course their resultant spreadsheets ... does it stress you out?
"It can get stressful, yeah, like anything. But it's grand!"
Thankfully, her stress is alleviated by helping hands at home. With five brothers, all she has to do is holler and someone pitches in. Dad Chris jokes that her youngest brothers, at four and six years old, are an integral part of the sweat shop.
"They have little fingers. It's amazing what they'll do for a Mars Bar or a Snicker's."
If you're interested in getting some Rosso Solini soles of your own, you can buy them here
Tell us, would you wear Rosso Solini?