Founder’s story: Stina Andersson

Read our "Founder's story". This week we're interviewing Stina Andersson to find out how Stinaa.J was created. Our founder Stina tells us how the idea of creating orthopedic high heels came about, why she decided to quit her career within PR and what it took for her to really dare believe in her dream. Hereby presenting to you the story behind Stinaa.J, as told by our founder, Stina Andersson.

About Stinaa.J About Stinaa.J

Right now, a lot of us are going through challenging times and it may feel rough to get through some of these days. Being forced to slow down may however also present an opportunity to reflect on what has been or what we want for the future. We at Stinaa.J are convinced that even if things feel unsure at the moment, we need to remember that the future is still bright and full of opportunities. If you have a minute, let us give you the inspiring and empowering interview with our founder Stina Andersson and the story behind Stinaa.J. She shares her story and why she decided to take a leap of faith (quitting her career at a PR firm) and just jump (start an orthopedic shoe brand focused on high heels). What convinced her that this was her path?

So Stina tell us, what is your story?
I have always been inspired by entrepreneurs and the way they have realized a dream and passion, but I had no idea what mine would be. I was working at a PR firm with clear career path cut out for me, after having studied civil engineering and sustainability. One night, I was out to dinner with my husband and (like a thousand times before) my feet were hurting so badly I ended up having to end the dinner walking barefoot out of the restaurant. The entire shoe industry for women is filled with shoes designed to look a certain way, with no regards to pain or injury for the women having to wear them. The alternative is shoes designed solely for comfort, with no elegance or style. I thought to myself “How is it possible that we constantly have to choose between style and comfort?”. The shoes I had in my closet weren’t made for the women walking in them, and that fact was the starting point of Stinaa.J.

Have shoes always been your passion?
Actually, in the beginning it was never about the shoes for me. It was about solving a problem that I knew I shared with all other women walking and living in high heels. As a civil engineer, problem solving and innovation is close to my heart. I quickly became dedicated to the task and made it my goal to revolutionize a traditional product that for a long time has caused pain and injuries for women. Stinaa.J will continue to be about solving problems for women, and that is my passion.

Was it an easy decision to start Stinaa.J?
Yes and no. It was difficult because I turned down a new opportunity with a clear career path at the firm I was working at. I am brought up with the idea that stability and self-independence is incredibly important, and I can still remember my mum telling me and my sister that the most important thing is to have an education that ensures independence. With that in mind, risking what I had and what I knew was not an easy decision.

What was the factor that made it go from an idea to a company?
Simply put, teaming up with my co-founder Peter Hedström. I had the idea and the vison of what I wanted to accomplish, but I had no idea how to go about it. I contacted Peter, who is a recognized orthopedic technician with more than three decades of experience from treating injuries through his clinics and athletes around the world. I presented my idea to him and he honestly surprised me with his immediate “yes”, so we started the company one week later! So teaming up with Peter, with his expertise and passion, is what made my idea possible.

What was your greatest fear?
Oh wow, I had so many. In the beginning it was all the uncertainties, like financial stability and losing the social community that a workplace provides. Luckily, I was supported by my husband and co-founder that both shared my vision for Stinaa.J and revolutionizing the shoe industry. Having a team, no matter how small, became very important to me in order to keep reminding myself why I wanted to do this.

Before I decided to turn down the job offer and quit my job, I called one of my best friends to ask her “should I jump?”. She said yes, “because I can tell that you’ve already made up your mind”.

Why the high heel, and what does it represent for you?
For me, high heels are a symbol for female power. For many women, putting on a pair of heels provides a boost of confidence and power so that she can walk into an important meeting or event with her head held high. This is why I believe we can empower women with the right pair of shoes.

Stina Andersson, founder
Foto: Emma Svensson

Tell us about the Stinaa.J innovation?
The Stinaa.J shoes are based on our world patented technology, which is found in the insole as well as the shape and fit of the shoe. From more than one million 3D scanned feet we have shaped our insole to support the foot and prevent injury. Three decades of orthopedic experience is what lies behind the creation of our shoes and insoles, and we use the world’s most cushioning materials, invented by NASA. We always say that we build our shoes from the inside out with our insole as the starting point and it is so true. We have based all decisions on the goal of creating the best possible shoes for the women walking in them. Our shoes fit 90% of all feet and 100% of all closets.

Does this mean you have solved the problem of pain caused by heels?
Let’s be honest, a high heel will never be the perfect choice for your body because it puts your body in an unnatural position. However, we are confident that we have done a lot to limit pain and injuries caused by walking in high heels. Our shoes enable you to walk for longer periods of time in heels, limiting the stress and pressure you put on your body by doing so. The Stinaa.J heels are a much better choice for the women wanting to both look and feel great, who already wear high heels often or want to have the opportunity to do so on special occasions. Besides that, our flats and sneakers are actually fully orthopedic in the way that they can heal injuries in your feet and prevent future damage.

What is your vision with Stinaa.J?
To empower the women walking in our shoes.

I have always had the same vision with my design which is to create timeless and sustainable fashion that lasts over time. To buy a pair of Stinaa.J shoes is to make an investment both in your wardrobe and in your body.

As a designer, who do you design for?
I design for the conscious woman who shares my view that women should be empowered by fashion. I am convinced that the modern woman doesn’t compromise between her style and her well-being. If I visualize her, I see an independent and creative businesswoman on the go. She deals with all components of life with a sense of power; whether it is work, creativity, family life or friendships. The Stinaa.J shoe carries her from business meetings to school pick-ups to after works with her girlfriends. For her, it is a conscious choice to wear shoes that let her do all those things with ease. That is the Stinaa.J woman.

Has the Stinaa.J collection changed over the years?
We started out with a smaller range of products where the focus was completely on our core product: the high heel. Since then, we have continued to expand our collection to ensure we can fulfill more aspects in the life of a Stinaa.J woman. Today we have expanded our brand to include ballerinas, sneakers, boots and pumps in a variety of heights, fabrics and styles.

This spring Stinaa.J launched the Essential Collection. What is this collection about?
My conviction about timeless and sustainable fashion is as strong as ever. Buying shoes at Stinaa.J means buying a pair that will last you for the next five years, and we hope you will love them as much then as you do now. My vision when designing is always to create shoes that will become an essential and lasting part of your wardrobe. For the SS20 collection we have worked with our signature styles, playing with inspiring colors which we hope you will love. The Stinaa.J collection always includes the classic black leather, black suede and blue suede which feel essential all year round. This spring collection also includes the light grey python, a lovely sand beige, a festive champagne metallic and two different pink nuances. These five colors feel like essential additions to the SS20 wardrobe and complement each other perfectly. When it comes to our sneakers and ballerina flats, these have been updated for SS20 with the 2.0 insole which features memory foam. The fit and comfort in our flat styles has also been revised and improved to fit even better on a variety of feet, as all feet truly are unique! We hope to also include our first sandal into the SS20 collection further along so keep your eyes open…

What is the best part of your job as a founder and creative director?
I truly love my job and everything that comes with it. I think the vital thing is that I am passionate about the product, the brand and the vision to empower women. My new title as creative director provides me with a possibility of focusing on exactly these parts and gives me time for the creative process.

Where do you see Stinaa.J and the Stinaa.J team in five years?
The sky is the limit! Women all over the world share the same problem of pain and injury caused by shoes and high heels lacking the proper support, cushioning and design. I believe that our patented innovation in combination with our timeless design provides a solution for all these women.

 

This interview series is created to empower and emphasize female entrepreneurs and to tell their stories in their own words. If you want to see more of Stina, follow her newly started instagram where she shares openly about her work life and Stinaa.J. If you have any questions or thoughts you would like to share, don’t hesitate to contact us at info@stinaaj.com.