Women in Business: Sandra Kessler, Good Feet Franchise

Sandra Kessler was a very successful Good Feet Franchise owner for many years. Ms. Kessler was Sales Manager/Franchise Sales for GFW from 2001 until 2003. She has been in Franchise Support for Good Feet Worldwide's formation since December 2004.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

I remember an experience I had very clearly, one that I will never forget. A young family came into my store one late afternoon, a mother, father and their young daughter who was about nine years old. The mother was in incredible pain, she could barely walk. Both her and her husband said they had tried everything: doctors, cortisone shots, special shoes, etc... they were at their last resort. I myself wasn't sure I could even help her, however I believed in the products I sold, so I personally fitted her in our supports, and I kid you not, it was like a miracle happened in my store. The mother took a few steps with hesitation, and then started walking around the store and with other customers in the store at the time -- it became so quiet you could hear a pin drop as we all waited to hear her reaction.

Her reaction became tears of joy and happiness! Not only was she crying because she was walking pain-free, her husband and daughter were crying. In fact, the whole store had tears in their eyes, and on top of the pure joy and happiness they were experiencing, their daughter says: "Does this mean we finally can go to Disneyland?" It was that day that I knew I wanted to help others and be the person I am to today to assist and teach others, to help others and be successful in doing so.

How has your previous employment experience aided your journey with Good Feet?

I had always been in sales prior to owning my own business. I've always been a "people person," always wanting to help others. There was still the gratification I experience when I was able to help someone find that right outfit, or that perfect pair of shoes, but I wanted more... I wanted to still work with people, but I wanted to do it on a larger scale, something that was life changing.

What are some of the highlights and challenges Good Feet franchisees face?

Some of the best highlights for a Good Feet franchisee is the gratification they get when they've help someone have a life changing experience, and become pain free. Another highlight is the high margins, and growth opportunity Good Feet offers. As for challenges? I think the main challenge most franchisees have is finding the right mix of advertising to generate business in their stores and like any other business, there are always challenges in finding the right employees.

What advice can you offer to women who are seeking for different entrepreneurial challenges?

They first should find a business that fits their personality, something they will be passionate about, and that passion becomes their strength and confidence to be a strong and successful business owner. Balancing their business and family can be a difficult challenge especially in the beginning, however they can do both. Having strong time management skills and knowing how and when to delegate, will definitely help them.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

I used to take work home with me all the day. My mind would race at night thinking of things that needed to be done, bills, employees, etc. I finally realized that in order for my mind to stay focused and my business to be successful, I need to be strong and healthy. So I make sure I eat right, exercise and make time for myself.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

I think women have challenges in the workplace if they have a family. I believe business owners think that if they have a family at home; could it affect their job commitment and performance, so in turn, it also affects the level of pay they earn, as they would not be as equally committed to their job as a man would be.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?

It's made a big difference. I was lucky to have the experience to work with a woman who I highly respected because of her success and professionalism, her knowledge, her attentiveness, her willing to ask questions, make decisions and the confidence she carried in herself, on top of being a full-time mother! I thanked her immensely for having the opportunity to work with her and told her, and made me realize, I could do it too!

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?

I think I would have to say: Caroline Kennedy. Although she is from an aristocratic family, she has endured so many life experiences that drastically change not only her life, but our country's, and to have the strength to overcome those experiences and be a successful business women, wife, and mother is truly amazing to me. Every time I see her or read about her, I think: Wow.

What do you want to professionally accomplish in the next year?

I'd really like to be able to take some courses or attend more seminars that will help me teach others to be successful at Good Feet. I'm always striving to become better at what I do so I can pass my knowledge and experience on to others. I am in the process of relaunching the company's training program, and while it will always and forever be changing, I want to make it a success, to build knowledge through the company.