WILMINGTON — Michelle Devillers’ business developed as sort of a fairy tale, with she as Cinderella, the fairy godmother and the prince all in one.
She owns and operates Celestial Shoes, a mobile shoe and accessory service, through which “the mall pulls up in front of your house.”
As a shoe customer, Ms. Devillers has always found it difficult to find ones that fit properly. Her business story began when, like Cinderella, she couldn’t find shoes for a ball.
“I wear a size 11-wide shoe — at least at that time. Now, I am a 12. Growing up, I always had large-size feet. By the time I was in fifth grade, I was actually wearing my mom’s shoes. She was a size 8 1/2. … It’s funny coming to school in wedge heels in the fifth grade.”
Ms. Devillers said that, as she got older, it grew increasingly harder to find footwear that fit. Once she outgrew a size 9, it got even more trickier.
So recognizing that other women must be experiencing the same problem, she decided to get her feet wet in business.
In October 2014, she launched Celestial Shoes, a service that caters to people who need hard-to-find footwear. But instead of finding and setting up a bricks-and-mortar store, she opted for a personalized mobile resource.
“I started Celestial Shoes to help women who had larger-size feet, wider feet, feel special. When I come to women, and they’re sitting down, they’re enjoying themselves. You slip on a pair of shoes. I like helping the stay-at-home mom or the woman who multitasks, works all day,” Ms. Devillers said.
She hit the ground running, developing relationships with shoe manufacturers and distributors and building her inventory.
Her business has widened to more than just special-sized shoes. Now, she accommodates any measurement. And she stocks all sorts of footwear — formal, casual and boots, as well as those for medical workers and teachers.
And like Cinderella’s fairy godmother — if she doesn’t have what you are looking for, she will find it. Celestial Shoes caters shopping experiences to its customers. For example, after a phone consultation, Ms. Devillers will handpick a selection, then bring it to the client, wherever they are, to try out.
She is able to serve larger groups, as well, like a wedding party.
She can deliver a selection of formal shoes to a bride and bridesmaids, so they can pick the right one. Or for a hospital or nursing facility, she can bring some nonslip, comfortable work shoes for employees to try on during their lunch breaks. Another example is a group of friends who like shoes and want to have a shoe-themed party.
Celestial Shoes carries formal varieties that can be dyed to match a dress or outfit. She can provide footwear for all occasions, including proms, and has even hosted shoe parties for husbands.
“I’ve had a husband who wanted to watch the Super Bowl and wanted me to occupy his wife while he was watching. He gave her a shoe party, so she could feel special, and he could watch the game,” Ms. Devillers said.
Like Cinderella’s prince, she travels throughout Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey finding the right foot for the right shoe.
But unlike Mr. Charming, she also brings specialty socks, handbags and scarves for customers.
Furthermore, contrary to many industries that had to pivot during the pandemic, Celestial Shoes’ business model already included a safe shopping experience.
“Wherever our wheels stop is where our store is,” Ms. Devillers said, adding that she used the name “Celestial Shoes” after some “divine inspiration.”
“Everything that I do comes through divine inspiration. I always say, ‘The Lord leads me to where I need to go with my business.’”
She is working to expand Celestial Shoes into Kent and Sussex counties and plans to debut another venture, Kicking Rocks Footwear, this summer. That project would focus on work and safety shoes for men and women in various industries.
With a background in civil engineering and construction, Ms. Devillers knows how hard it is to find good work shoes, so she hopes to connect with construction companies and the many new science-based firms coming to the First State.
The idea for Kicking Rocks came from her customers.
“A lot of men started asking me for shoes, especially safety shoes. So we’re going to do safety boots, nursing shoes, laboratory shoes, shoes for warehouse workers, that sort of thing,” she said.
Ms. Devillers hopes her business steps up to become a nationwide service.
“My dream is to have trucks of Celestial Shoes and Kicking Rocks Footwear all over the United States, you know, to become really big. But right now, I’m just keeping it local within the Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania area. But I’m looking to go even further.”