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Xero Shoes on “How I Built This” Podcast

Xero Shoes founders Steven Sashen and Lena Phoenix were recently featured on the immensely popular NPR podcast and radio show How I Build This, hosted by Guy Raz. 

How I Built This dives deep into the origin stories of iconic brands, sharing how visionary entrepreneurs weather the trials and failures on the road to success. Six years and just over 500 episodes in, it’s a top-five business podcast on Apple, and number 14 among business podcasts on Spotify. So yes, this is right up there with the time Steven and Lena appeared on Shark Tank

The interview lasts nearly 90 minutes, and covered a wide range of personal, professional, and philosophical topics. Even if you think you know the Xero Shoes story, you’re going to learn something new. 

A few revelations from the interview include… 

  • Steven’s jobs have included: 
    • Standup comedian – he even opened for Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld
    • Designer of screenwriting software
    • Cable TV host for a show about diagnosing computer problems 
    • Real estate investor
    • SEO and website builder
  • Lena moved to Boulder, Colorado, to study dance at a Tibetan Buddhist university
  • Lena’s engagement ring from Steven came out of a gumball machine and cost 50 cents
  • Steven was inspired to “go barefoot” by running 5k without shoes around Boulder
  • One reason the couple began making barefoot sandals was to keep Steven’s bare feet from staining a white carpet
  • The original name of Xero Shoes was Invisible Shoes
  • Steven and Lena only sold DIY sandal kits for the first 4 years of the business
  • The original Xero Shoes “customer service department” was a dining room table
  • Xero Shoes’ original foot-shaped shoe designs were based on a composite of foot tracings from hundreds of customers 

Get the full story by listening to How I Built This.