Like the best entrepreneurs, Caryce Porter's business – Nude Sole – began with a problem. She needed shoes for her sister's wedding. A nude shoe would have been perfect, and so Porter set out to find one to match her skin tone. A part of her knew it would be a fruitless search – as a woman of color she had been down this road before – but she was determined.
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"This is a frustration I've had as a woman of color for most of my life – not even just with shoes," she explained, describing what it was like as a young girl and wearing makeup for the first time, or rather trying to find an affordable foundation appropriate for a high schooler that also matched her skin tone. "It's changed lately…but they didn't carry makeup that was dark enough for me…It was a frustration I grew up with and it was my normal. It was kind of normal. It was like 'No one makes these products for me.'"
Fortunately, Porter grew up in a household where, though it might have been normal at the mall or drugstore, it was not normal or okay with her mother. "(She) was this advocate…My mom would go out of her way to buy black barbie dolls because they weren't carried in all stores…She was always shooting off letters at Mattel. So my mom always told me, 'You need to see reflections of yourself. It may not be there but write a letter or do something,'" Porter related. She added, "So it was normal, but I knew it was not okay," when it came to her skin color – or any woman of color – and a lack of representation in the marketplace at large.
In that way, the seed for Nude Sole was sown very early.
Part of it was growing up in a household where it was not uncommon to see her mother writing letters to companies to demand more representation of women of color – for her daughter – and part of it was that Porter loves shoes. After all, most of us know that not only does a nude go with everything (saving us space in our closets and suitcases) but they are flattering AF because they make one's legs longer. Porter wanted that for herself and she wanted it for all women in her position. Finally, as a bridesmaid, she got mad and thought, "You know what? In that moment of me just going off, I was like you have been frustrated with this. I am a shoe girl. I've been complaining about it forever. I've been saying "I wish I had" forever. And that was the moment when I was like, okay. Make it happen."
And she did. Nude Sole was born.
A year ago, she set out to create a line of nude heels for women of color, calling her business Nude Sole.
In the past year, Porter has taken on every role in her business - from financing to design to marketing. She started with Google and read book after book, even reaching out to some of the authors. She sought out local resources for women business owners to help with legalities – from becoming incorporated to getting a trademark. She has the go-getter personality typical of an entrepreneur, but her ideas are anything but typical. Her heels are cruelty-free and her business is environmentally friendly.
Less than two weeks ago, Porter shared a Facebook post of prototypes going into production. She just wanted to let friends and family know what was going on. But then the post went viral and the interest was incredible – showing how desperately Nude Sole was needed.
Now just a year after she began, she is taking pre-orders and will be selling her shoes in the spring. Thousands of women have already pre-ordered and Porter is looking at warehouses and fulfillment centers. She currently offers four shades but as the brand grows, she has plans to expand, explaining, "I want this to be an option for all women of all ethnicities and all nationalities."
"One year ago, I made the decision to turn my frustration into a positive and make a solution," Porter stated enthusiastically. This is her passion, her drive, everything. Her optimism and passion drive her. So Porter did what she does best: She stepped up (and in her new nude heels no less).