Money & Career

Sara Caverley Designs Your Dream Shoes For A Living

The Sol Sana founder reveals her secrets to success

Sara Caverley has the best job title in the world: self-made footwear entrepreneur. Having founded Sol Sana in 2011, she now spends her days designing shoes at her New York office. 

Last week, Caverley was sitting in a park in NYC when Jessica Alba walked past her in a pair of Sol Sana slides. “Seeing people wearing my shoes on the street still freaks me out a little,” admits Caverley, who splits her time between the States and Sydney.

Today, she’s in Las Vegas for a trade show – and she’ll head to Europe and Asia soon for their shows. But Caverley, 35, wasn’t always a globetrotting #girlboss. She worked in fashion wholesale, before spotting a gap in the market for good quality leather sandals at an accessible price point, and launching Sol Sana.

Sol Sana
New season Sol Sana slides.

“I sold the samples from my first range out of the back of my car,” she says of the early days. “I was still doing my full-time job and squeezing the business in at the same time, so it was challenging.”

The biggest challenge? “I had no idea what I was doing,” says Caverley with a laugh. “I’d never designed anything before. There was a lot of trial and error.”

It wasn’t until David Jones picked the brand up that Caverley knew she was on to something and decided to focus on Sol Sana full time. Since then, she’s sold 800,000 pairs of shoes; the brand is now stocked in over 700 stores around the world and has a team of 20 working in Sydney.

Caverley enjoys the creativity of designing, “I draw inspiration from high end runways and people on the street, and I love that I have the freedom to take that inspiration and put my own twist on it. That’s my favourite thing.”

Oh, and the shoes. “I have a pretty good shoe collection,” she says. We can only dream… 

Secret to success: I know it’s a cliché, but love what you do. Find what you’re passionate about and the rest will follow.

Breakfast of champions: Cereal and milk at my desk.

Best advice: Don’t be afraid to fail – and learn from those failures.

Hardest lesson: Letting go. You can’t be everywhere at once.

Top job interview tip: Ask questions – and wear a pair of Sol Sana shoes.

Coffee order: A long black with milk in Australia or a bad filtered coffee in America.

Wind down: Every year I try to take a week off at the beach without my phone. Heaven. 

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