The Shoe Professa Faces the Sharks | Bleader

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Shoe Professa Faces the Sharks

Posted By on 02.05.10 at 01:53 PM

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Nicole Jones of Sensual Steps
  • Nicole Jones of Sensual Steps

Tonight at 8 PM "Shoe Professa" Nicole Jones, owner of Bronzeville boutique Sensual Steps, appears on the ABC reality show Shark Tank to try to convince the panel of potential investors to fund her idea for a Tupperware-like in-home shoe sales program called Pillars of Slippers. (She's not the first local entrepreneur to make an appearance on the show.)

Jones, who opened her boutique in 2005, actually missed the auditions in Chicago last June. When she found out about them after the fact, she tracked down and buttonholed a producer of the show. She'd already tested out a "Heels on Wheels" program, stuffing a Hummer full of stilettos, chocolates, and Champagne and making an event out of it and hoped to take the idea national.

She's bound by contract not to reveal the outcome until after the show airs (although a snazzy site is already live). But she says "it was one of the most exciting, invigorating opportunities of my life."

Whatever the verdict, Jones is clearly someone who can make things happen. When she was growing up in a large family on the city's southwest side, she says, new shoes were a rare treat. She's since parlayed her shoe lust into the store, where she also sells other clothing and accessory entrepreneurs' items on consignment; a book; and even a nonprofit called PUMPS (Providing U Motivation to Pursue Success) that teaches teenage girls about self-esteem and healthy self-image.

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