Imagine a destination wedding and what do you think of? Most people, myself included would probably visualise a beach location, somewhere hot and sunny with the sand beneath your toes. How amazing, but what do you wear on your feet? Cue Bare Sandals.
We’re all aware how cumbersome traditional footwear is on a beach, but what are the alternatives? Going bare foot’s fine, but not very ‘finished’ or dressy on such a special day. Here’s where Bare Sandals are so unique. They’re not footwear in the traditional sense, but think of them instead as gorgeous jewellery, a beautiful adornment for your feet to give them a really pretty finish without the bulk of traditional shoes.
From minimalist styles, for the bride looking for the merest hint of glimmer at her feet, to intricately patterned beauties for those who really want to sparkle, I think Bare Sandals has beach chic for feet covered. So let me pass you straight over to Anna to tell you so much more about herself and the inspiration for her business.
Tell us a little about yourself and your business
My name is Anna Monasterski. I am the owner and founder of Bare Sandals. Bare Sandals specializes in handcrafting and customizing foot jewelry primarily for destination weddings, honeymoons, beach getaways and other occasions. We also make gorgeous sandals you can wear to a yoga class, to the beach or simply around the house to show off your presh pedi.
Bare Sandals is located in Burlington, New Jersey, USA and currently ran only by myself and some of my family members. We are a very small company that focuses on quality of product, outstanding customer service and top notch materials. Bare Sandals does not have a physical store, and all of our sandals can be purchased through our website mybaresandals as well as on Etsy, Amazon, Artfire and through select retailers in the US.
What motivated you to start your business?
When I was getting married in Mexico I had a really difficult time finding a pair of shoes that would allow me to freely walk on the beach without getting sand all over my feet. The sand would get in between the shoes and feet, would rub and generally give an unpleasant sensation. I didn’t want to deal with that on my wedding day. I wanted to be completely comfortable. However, I didn’t want to be completely barefoot either.
The “beach wedding shoes” I found in stores were uncomfortable, and the ones I found online looked tacky and chunky. I wanted something different, comfortable and something I could look great in. When I was doing my research for my wedding, I found a pair of crochet barefoot sandals on Pinterest and I was hooked. They were perfect!
Instead of purchasing the crochet pair I saw on Pinterest, I decided to make my own. Being the DIY, obsessed fanatic that I am, I knew I could make my own pair using beads. I bought some beads, string and started to mess around with designs. Eventually I made the pair that I really liked, and ended up wearing them on my wedding day in Mexico.
When I got back from Mexico, I posted some designs on Etsy “just to see if they would sell”. At that time I had no idea that other brides, just like myself were having the same issue as I was. After a few months, my sandals started to sell and I officially got in the “beach wedding business”.
Tell us a little more about the day to day activities of your business.
My day usually starts around 5:15 in the morning when I wake up, make breakfast and head to my day job ( I teach English as a Second Language to high school students full time ). When I am on my prep, or have some free time I try to complete the office tasks for my business as well: answer emails, make a to do list, contact buyers and update my listings. When I get home from work, I usually get right into it: I make a list of the most essential tasks I need to complete for that particular day and get to work. Sometimes those tasks include packaging and shipping, sometimes it is actually handcrafting the sandals. A lot of times it is a lot of online tweaking of the listings or working on the website. I try to complete at least 3 most essential tasks during the weekdays, however, weekends are essential for my business.
This is the time when my family members come over and we spend the days either hand making the majority of orders that come in during the week, or packaging, or other business related tasks. It has been a very hectic year thus far, especially having a full time job besides running a business.
My goal is to eventually make Bare Sandals my full time gig where I will be able to focus my attention 100% on the business. Right now it’s a huge juggling act, but it is necessary to get to that point where I can “retire early from teaching.”
If our readers were to order from you, what can they expect?
When you place an order with Bare Sandals, first you receive an email notification with your order confirmation and basic info, such as: how long the production takes, how long the shipping usually takes, when you will be notified of shipment and etc… Next, Bare Sandals carefully creates your order. Our sandals are 100% handmade and I personally double check every pair of sandals for quality before the shipment. I want to make sure that all sandals are made in the most durable way, they function and packaged to our top standard.
When packaging your order, we do not charge “extra” for gift wrapping. You are already spending a top dollar on our product, so each and every order is gift wrapped free of charge. We add a custom message inside the box ( if you have requested for this option upon checkout ) and carefully place your order in our packaging wrap. We ship all sandals via USPS First class, Priority or Overnight. Once we ship your sandals, you automatically receive an email with the tracking number of your order.
On our website, the production time is indicated as 7 – 12 business days. I personally make it my goal to send out your order sooner than indicated on the website. On occasions, we get a TON of orders, and I have to play catch up, so it may actually take the full 7 – 12 business days for you to get that shipment notification email. However, 99.9% of the time your sandals are shipped to you within a week of your purchase.
If you are customizing your order ( either changing the colour of the chain, or the entire design ), we keep in touch with you during the entire production phase and send you snap shots of the progress, and make necessary adjustments based on your feedback.
How can couples judge if a company is the right fit for their wedding?
Bare Sandals is not right for every type of bride out there. Before making a purchase, a couple should ask themselves a few questions:
- What types of wedding am I having?
- Will wearing barefoot sandals be suitable for my ceremony and the type of reception will be at the wedding?
- Do I want the bridesmaids to have matching sandals?
- What type of quality of foot jewelry am I looking to wear? Something glamorous or something simple, suitable for other occasions?
- How much do I care about the presentation of the product?
- How important is quality of the product
If a bride does decide to purchase Bare Sandals, she can expect all sandals to be absolutely stunning, gift wrapped and delivered to her doorstep in a timely fashion. A bride is able to email me directly and ask any questions she may have about the product before purchasing it. In addition, we can discuss customization options, if necessary. Plus, we offer repairs of all sandals for up to 6 months after your purchase ( in rare case that they break ), and hassle free 30 day return policy if you are not satisfied with your order.
What are your favourite moments from previous weddings you’ve been involved with?
I once had a bride who wanted a custom made pair of barefoot sandals for her wedding in Antigua. She had a very specific taste, but once her order was made the sandals turned out the be beautiful! Due to her requests, I had to order very specific Swarovski crystals and other materials for the sandals. The total cost for the bride was definitely on the higher end of the spectrum.
When I completed production of her sandals, I had some left over materials. I didn’t want to send her raw materials that would just lay there and collect dust, so I made her matching earring and a bracelet with the leftovers. She was absolutely ecstatic when she got the order. She ended up leaving me a mind blowing review, and then sent me photos from her wedding rocking the sandals, the bracelet and the earrings. I loved seeing her in the jewelry, but the best past was knowing that I contributed to her special day in a way she will never forget.
The bigger picture – does your business offer goods/services outside of the wedding world? Tell us more.
We do make sandals suitable for everyday wear. Some of our items can be worn on a vacation, or to a yoga class. We do try to stick to mostly brides, but some of the sandals have a very “bohemian” feel that can be worn with your favorite pair of flip flops to the beach, or by the pool.
On a side note, I am in the process of actually writing an e-book, specifically for Etsy sellers who want to improve their search engine visibility. After selling on Etsy for so many years, I decided to share everything I have learned with other people, so they don’t have to read book after book about setting up their shops for success – they can just read my book instead.
What have you got planned for 2017?
This year I have a few goals that I really want to stick with.
- Be more consistent on writing meaningful blogs for my brides.
- Secure 2 more wholesale accounts with retailer in US/UK region.
- Work on making my website even more user friendly and appealing.
- Attend a bridal show to showcase the goodies in person to brides in the area.
As far as the actual plans go:
- I am definitely planning on having a bridal photoshoot to show off the newest collections of Bare Sandals as well as other bridal vendors. So if you are a bridal vendor, and you maybe want your goodies to be featured in shoot, send me a message.
- Having a giveaway on our Instagram page every month.
- And of course, as far as the full time job goes – making it to the end of the school year without completely burning myself out.
And finally, what or who inspires you and why?
My inspiration comes from really anywhere and everywhere. I LOVE patterns, and just walking into a craft store gives me the greatest pleasure of all. I love feeling different textures and checking out materials I can use in my designs. Clothes, accessories, color sequences really inspire me. Tattoos too ( weird, I know ). At the end of the day, the inspiration is truly everywhere. I am so lucky to be able to use this drive and bring an amazing product to all of my stunning brides.
All images courtesy of Bare Sandals