This Mom Turned Yard Sale Scraps into a Multimillion Dollar Business

freshly picked baby shoes moccasins

Six years ago, Susan Petersen was a stay-at-home mom who was having trouble finding comfortable shoes for her newborn son. Now, she runs a multimillion-dollar company that solves that very problem for other moms around the world.

Petersen started Freshly Picked baby shoes after picking up some scrap leather from a yard sale. She grew up wearing moccasins due to her Native American heritage. So, she already had an idea of how to construct some baby-friendly versions of the shoes.

The Freshly Picked versions feature fringe at the top and an elastic opening so that the shoes stay on little feet.

At the beginning, she bootstrapped the business. She even got creative with funding, selling some of the old materials from her brother’s window installation business to raise money for more supplies.

And even though she was finding success, selling to the likes of Kim Kardashian, Kelly Clarkson, Lisa Ling, Jessica Alba, and Jessica Simpson, she didn’t take a paycheck until last year. All of the money she made from selling Freshly Picked baby shoes went directly back into the business.

But so far, it has paid off. She has even been able to hire a team of people to help her with the business. And that ability to support both herself and her staff has been one of her favorite parts of running Freshly Picked. She told CNN:

“I remember when the moccasins were taking off — I was sitting in a Target parking lot. My whole life I’ve wanted to go to Target and buy whatever I wanted to. Now I could. I want my employees to feel the same way. There’s nothing I like more than seeing people succeed.”

Petersen’s startup story is one of many that demonstrates the power of finding a prevalent problem that needs solving. Since she was a mom herself, Peterson knew how difficult finding comfortable shoes for babies could be. So she could be fairly sure that other moms experienced that same problem as well.

But on top of that, Petersen demonstrated the hard work and tenacity that it often takes to get a startup off the ground. Funding a business in the early days can be difficult. But she was willing to get creative and even go without a paycheck for years to secure her company’s financial future.

Image: Freshly Picked 6 Comments ▼

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

6 Reactions
  1. It’s amazing to see how businesses are crafted from scraps. I love that people are learning to not only make use but also make money from things they would have discarded in the beginning.

    • I love it too! Not only is it a creative and cost effective way to start a business, it’s also preventing a lot of waste.

  2. Susan is an inspirtation. If she can do this with on money and just an idea, maybe we can call start something too. Thanks for posting.

  3. Great story and an inspiration to budding entrepreneurs everywhere. Would love a follow up piece about how she was able to connect with so many A-list celebrities in the early days.

  4. Susan is a huge inspiration. If a friend said to me… “I’m going to start a baby shoe business and I’m starting with this scrap leather… I would have said “having you been drinking?”.

    But it goes to show how different visions and perspective can be