Founders Lena Phoenix and Steven Sashen: A Husband-Wife Venture To Change The World

Founders Lena Phoenix and Steven Sashen: A Husband-Wife Venture To Change The World

Lena Phoenix and Steven Sashen. Image Credit: Instagram.

Shark Tank has given numerous ideas, financial support, and a market to sell their product. But does that mean that the ideas that were rejected were failures?

Lena Phoenix and Steven Sashen beg to differ with their product, Xero Shoes. Join us as we look into the product that changed running in sandals.

What Are Xero Shoes?

  • Xero Shoes, produced by Feel the World Inc., are a distinctive line of minimalist footwear designed to be lightweight and friendly on the feet.
  • Steven Sashen and Lena Phoenix founded this company in 2009, with their initial product being do-it-yourself sandals made just from rubber soles and laces.
  • Ready-made sandals were later introduced, as well as closed-toed shoes.
  • In February 2013, Xero Shoes appeared on ABC’s show Shark Tank, gaining success after becoming featured.
  • What makes these innovative running shoes unique is their added benefits while allowing for nearly barefoot running comfort.
  • Xero Shoes have a 5000-mile warranty that lasts longer than traditional athletic sneakers, which break down more quickly over time.

How Did Lena Phoenix and Steven Sashen Come Up With the Idea?

In 2007, Steven Sashen decided to try running a 5K without shoes. Surprisingly, the experience felt natural and ignited his passion for launching one of today’s most well-known minimalist shoe brands.

The runner was inspired after reading Christopher McDougall’s best-seller Born to Run and creating his minimalist sandals.

The slippers made him feel more connected with the ground, resulting in fewer injuries and improved running pace.

Lena Phoenix and Steven Sashen
Lena Phoenix and Steven Sashen. Image Credit: LinkedIn.

After sharing his invention with friends, Steven initially convinced his wife Lena to help start a do-it-yourself sandal kit business.

Still, the innovator gradually evolved into ready-to-wear sandals as the brand slowly expanded its offerings.

Throughout their journey, the couple faced numerous obstacles that entrepreneurs typically encounter.

Difficulties such as manufacturing meltdowns, anxious investors, rising debt, and an escalation of a trade war with China were constantly arising.

Lena Phoenix and Steven Sashen
Lena Phoenix and Steven Sashen. Image Credit: LinkedIn.

On top of these challenges, an insulting offer on Shark Tank nearly derailed them, but things eventually turned around.

Xero Shoes now boasts of sold products across different corners of the globe, recording almost $50 million worth of sales over this decade-long period they have been operating.

Similarly, another idea that was rejected on Shark Tank is BedJet. Learn more about its founder, Mark Aramli, in our article.

Shark Tank Rejection

The Xero shoes were featured on season 4 of Shark Tank when Steve and Lana sought an investment of $400K for an 8% stake in their company.

With sales totaling over $650K in the previous two years and projections showing more than $1.2 million for the year ahead, the duo presented a promising opportunity to investors.

One of the judges, Robert Herjavec, tried on a pair of Xero shoes and approved them. Another shark, Daymond John, expressed concern that competitors may imitate these innovative products despite patent protections already being implemented.

Lena Phoenix and Steven Sashen
Lena Phoenix and Steven Sashen. Image Credit: Social Media.

While other Sharks declined their deal proposal unfavorably, Kevin O’Leary, also known as Mr. Wonderful, offered to invest $400K with expectations of acquiring half ownership.

Lena Phoenix and Steven Sashen ultimately rejected Mr. Wonderful’s offer, which resulted in him dramatically saying, “You’re dead to me.”

ALSO READ: The Untold Story of Juan Pablo Montúfar’s Net Worth After Shark Tank Rejection

Life After Shark Tank

Xero Shoes relocated to a new office in Broomfield, Colorado, in January 2015.

The company introduced its first footwear with enclosed toes in 2016 and initiated a crowdfunding campaign to expand its product offerings for financial support around April 2017. By September, more than $1 million had been raised by the firm.

American swimming team members outside pools utilized the Xero Shoes brand during events held at the Summer Olympic Games back in 2020, while some archery athletes from the nation’s team wore these shoes, too.


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A post shared by Xero Shoes (@xeroshoes)

In December 2020, private equity firm TZP Group procured strategic investment in this organization. On November 11th, 2021, Xero Shoes opened shops all over Europe as they launched their new official website, Xero

Considering how well-liked the shoes are, the happy couple is looking at a successful business. We hope the company continues to grow and release newer products.


Q: Who is Steven Sashen?

A: Steven is the visionary and marketer for Xero Shoes.

Q: How long do Xero Shoes last?

A: Xero Shoes have a 5,000-mile sole limited warranty and a 24-month manufacturer’s limited warranty.

Q: Can I wash Xero Shoes?

A: Yes, Xero Shoes can be washed in warm water and mild detergent.

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