Two California Women “Step” Up To The Challenge of Business Ownership

By Cathie Anderson
The Sacramento Bee.

McClatchy High School graduates Amanda Kludt and Caitlin Zapf saw a gap in the market for girls’ shoes. Now their company, Bumbums & Baubles, is filling it at 75 U.S. stores.

Kludt came up with the idea for a new shoe when her 7-year-old daughter, whose nickname is Bumbum, was about 3. The mother-daughter tussle over clothing choices started with shoes. Kludt wanted something classic, tasteful, simple, but her daughter was mad for shoes with lights, sparkles and the crazy, fun stuff.

The Curtis Park mom wished she could find a shoe that could give them both what they wanted, and that’s when she thought of clip-on baubles that could be sold separately to spice up a classic shoe. She contacted her old high school buddy, Zapf, who was living in San Diego, and Zapf suggested they team up.

“We were in development, my partner and I, for four to five years, while we worked at other jobs. We were trying to perfect the attachment mechanism,” Kludt said. Their goal was “to create a shoe that was stylish on its own but would have this interchangeable accessory that could customize the shoes.”

The two women introduced their shoes to the market in the fourth quarter of last year, after friends and family bought into their vision with $400,000 in capital.

Their sandals, Mary Jane shoes and boots retail for $40-$69, and they have been picked up by regional players such as Takken’s and Brooks Shoes for Kids.

Locally, they’re sold at stores such as Koukla Kids, 3809 J St., and Puddles, 2580 Fair Oaks Blvd.

Sales so far this year are already in the low six figures. Kludt and Zapf are now in discussions with some premium, big-box retailers, and they are preparing to raise a fresh round of capital to fund that kind of expansion.

Scott Herckis, formerly vice president of finance for Tory Burch and Elie Tahari, was so enamored of the Bumbums & Baubles concept that he agreed to take the company on as a client, Kludt said. Herckis is essentially a CFO-for-hire, managing finances for a select group of businesses.

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