How Save Our Solez, which sells flats out of vending machines in clubs, got its start

"My business came out of what we learned at Centennial," says co-founder Andrew Palillo. "Our marketing strategies came from the marketing course the business plan course helped create a framework."

Save Our Solez is a vending company that sells women’s flats directly out of customized vending machines in nightclubs. We’re a year old and doing well in SET, a club on King West, and are in talks with a few others.

From about age 17, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I like the idea of your paycheque being justified by how hard you work. That’s the mentality I’ve had for 16-odd years.

I chose the international business-management program at Centennial College because I’d always wanted to start my own business. I wanted it to be product-oriented, so I needed to know the processes involved in importing and exporting. 

The idea for the company came from seeing women walking around downtown with their heels in their hands after they left the bars. It just popped into my head: why are these women wearing no shoes? The concept came up again while I was at Centennial, during a course for creating a business plan. My Partner Samir Vardara developed the business plan for the vending company in class and got a mark in the 90s. I figured it was a solid idea, and we had the framework, so I revisited it after college and put the pieces together.

Centennial’s program taught me everything involved from start to finish and more than what I thought I needed. In terms of importing and exporting, we went through every single process. In the real world, you pay people to do a lot of things like documentation, but in the course we had to fill out that paperwork and go through every step ourselves.

Building Save Our Solez with my business partner, Sameer Vadera, came from what we learned there. Our marketing strategies came from the marketing course the business-plan course helped created a framework. Once we had that done, it was about connecting the dots with the import/export side.

Another beneficial aspect of the Centennial program was getting the chance to meet people from all over the world. There were a lot of international students, so you’re learning from them and broadening your ideas, thoughts and possibilities. It makes such a big world smaller.

One of my teachers, Tulsi Dharel, gave one-on-one attention. I could always email him and pick his brain on concepts we learned in class or ideas I had. He was always willing to go above and beyond to provide me with advice, as opposed to just a teacher who is getting you through the course. It was a very open relationship, and he was pretty motivating.

Seeing a business idea come to life is the most satisfying aspect of my job – taking an idea and seeing my product being sold, plus the ongoing process of always innovating to push your business to the next level. 

We’re always looking for new designs, new machines, sources for cheaper flats, better manufacturers – that’s fun and exciting. It’s really rewarding to see the idea become a reality.

Brand Voices

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