When Denver resident Julie Adams left the corporate world to start a business, she was filled with uncertainty. Now, two years after launching Pakems, a paable shoe for apres ski, business is surging and she hasn't looked back.
We sat down for an interview with the Julie to gain more insight on the company.
Carri: How did the idea of Pakems come to be?
Julie: I was a corporate employment lawyer for over 18-years and became fed up with my son being the last one picked up from daycare each day. So, I decided to leave my job in order to spend more time with my son, who was 5 at the time. After I left my job, I took a ski trip to Italy, which is where I came up with the idea for Pakems. I was sitting on the mountain having an après-ski drink with my ski boots off and wished I had a pair of packable shoes I could put on, rather than having to put my uncomfortable ski boots back on. I also thought about how perfect a packable shoe would be for my son after skiing, because his feet always hurt so bad and it’s so difficult for him to walk in ski boots.
Carri: What has been one of the biggest challenges in launching a business?
Julie: The footwear industry is notoriously difficult to break into. It is a very capital-intensive industry. Orders are placed and paid for well before sales or receivables can be collected, so it requires a lot of up front money to float inventory. In addition to capital requirements the competition is pretty intense. Obviously, there are a lot of big players in the footwear industry, though we are carving a niche market with a lightweight packable shoe. The other challenge is just being a startup business. We are a small operation and constantly having to wear ever-changing hats. But I have a great group of friends, family and colleagues helping me to get this company off the ground.
Carri: What has been one of the most rewarding parts of launching Pakems?
Julie: It is amazing to me to see an idea I had on a ski slope in Italy, turn into something I have on my feet right now. Everything I have gone through to get this company off the ground, the trips to China, the people I have met, the team I have assembled and even all of the challenges we’ve faced has been the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. However, the icing on the cake is my son Bodie is no longer the last kid picked up at daycare. I have had the flexibility in my schedule to spend more time with my son and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.
Carri: What do you most love about Colorado? Do you have any favorite places to hang out, restaurants to eat at or hobbies?
Julie: I absolutely love Colorado. I moved here from Houston, Texas, where I was working in the oil industry as lawyer, and had only visited Colorado once on a business trip. I was ready to leave Houston and wanted to move to a place where I could really enjoy the outdoors. I remembered my trip to Colorado and my decision was made (and it helped I didn’t have to take the bar again in Colorado). That was 16 years ago and now I am here, I don’t want to live anywhere else. I love being able to enjoy the outdoors all year round. My favorite après-ski hangout is the Vail Underground, especially watching Steve Meyer’s show and wearing Pakems during his show makes it all the better.
Carri: What is something we would be surprised to know about you?
Julie: I’m not a great skier. I’m not terrible, but I’m not great either. You’d think, given I’ve created a lightweight packable shoe that is perfect for taking with you when you’re skiing, I would actually be a much better skier than I am. Maybe someday, when I have more time, I’ll work on getting better, but for now, I’ll just enjoy my time on the slopes and really enjoy my après-ski time in my Pakems.