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Talented entrepreneur and innovator Gaynor Saunders started her enterprise journey in 2014, while looking through the window of a quaint shoe shop in Florence, she observed locals cutting patterns from leather and making their own shoes.

Gaynor started a journey that would lead her to none other than the lair of BBC’s Dragon’s Den, attempting to secure investment and tame a dragon.

The Business

Gaynor had noticed a real problem with the standard production of shoes, and wanted to solve the fast-fashion cycle of materials, production and waste that came with it. She learnt that buyers producing shoes had to order materials 18 months in advance in order to manufacture, and when styles and trends changed, often these materials were discarded. Due to the nature of the shoes being glued together before arrival, these parts would never be recycled once thrown out and would only end up in landfill.

So with this in mind, Gaynor started thinking about an environmentally friendly alternative that worked for the planet, the manufacturers, and the consumer. What she came up with would go on to become Heelz and Toez – a unique shoe brand for children made entirely from sustainable materials. The unique selling point of these shoes? They are recyclable, comfortable and customise-able.

But that’s not all…

The patented gliding mechanism within the shoe gives a custom fit to each wearer, fitting to each and every foot, no matter how slim or wide. This is achieved as the mechanism allows the wearer to manoeuvre the straps into the perfect position on their foot and then adjust them to fit; meaning less visits to buy new children’s shoes!

The Support

Gaynor knew when setting up her business that getting business advice would give her the best chance of turning her vision into a reality. Gaynor contacted us and started working with a business advisor on the EnterprisingYou programme. The programme launched at the start of 2020 and was able to support Gaynor while she geared up for her appearance on Dragon’s Den. By working with EnterprisingYou, Gaynor felt more confident and more capable to turbo-charge her business and strive for bigger and better deals.

On talking about the support she received from EnterprisingYou, Gaynor told us:

“I felt guided by the expertise and support provided by my business coach and feel that he has kept me on track and held me accountable. He has been very supportive and this has kept me focused and spurred me on.”

The Den

Gaynor appeared on Dragon’s Den on 25th June to face the five Dragons, pitch her business and ask for investment.

We were so excited to see Gaynor feature on the show and so happy she managed to secure investment!

Gaynor walked away from the Den with £50,000 of investment courtesy of Touker Suleyman, for a 45% share of Gaynor’s business.

She is a truly remarkable woman who has worked incredibly hard on her business for the good of the consumer and the planet. Her ethos:

“I want my customers to smile daily:  Smile because they have made good choices,  smile at their pretty shoes that they have created, smile because they know their shoes are good for the environment, and smile because the shoes are so comfortable.”


EnterprisingYou provide fully funded support to the self-employed and gig economy workers across Greater Manchester. If you would like to find out more about EnterprisingYou, register online, email or call 0161 667 6900 to speak to one of our business coaches. 

More information about the EnterprisingYou programme can be found here.

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