From a background in advertising and law, Jodie Fox now applies her communication savvy and sense of style to her true passion: outfitting women around the world in beautiful shoes via Shoes of Prey.  In case you’ve not heard of Shoes of Prey, it’s a unique way of designing your perfect shoe – ideal for women who want to either add their own flair to their footwear, and also acts as a veritable lifesaver for women who can’t find the height they want in their shoes from traditional bricks-and-mortar retail outlets.

Jodie’s role in the business encompasses product development, public relations and being the global face of the brand. Her work on Shoes of Prey has been well recognised, including receiving the national Telstra Business Women’s Awards Winner (Australia), Hudson Private & Corporate Sector, 2014 Top 30 most influential women in Australian retail, 2014 Top 10 Australian female entrepreneurs and 2015’s top 8 entrepreneurs to watch.  Jodie gives us the lowdown on what it took to make Shoes of Prey what it is today, and tips for budding fashionista entrepreneurs.

Jodie-Fox-Shoes-of-Prey-Leaders-in-HeelsI turned my passion into my business

I’m a lawyer by trade and started out working at Blake Dawson (now Ashurst), where I worked with amazing people and teachers. But, I soon came to realise that my heart just wasn’t in it. The longer I was there, the sadder I became. It’s the first time that I realised how important it is to fill your life up with things you truly love.

When I fully came to terms with this, I made a list of things that would make me happy. Not in career, but in my whole life. Then I began to really grill everyone in my life about his or her industry. What did they do day-to-day? What did they love? What did they hate? What did they imagine happening in the future?

I took those answers and looked at them beside my list. The career that came out on top was advertising, so I went and learnt about building a brand, before deciding to build one of my own.

Coming up with a great business idea comes from solving a problem that you are experiencing. We knew we were on to something when we came up with Shoes of Prey, but we had to ask ourselves three key questions that every business should consider before starting out:

  1. Is it something people would pay for?
  2. Are there lots of people that would pay for it? More than once?
  3. Is it possible to see a return on initial investment?

The inspiration …

I was solving a problem of my own. I didn’t love shoes until I could design them myself – and then I absolutely loved being able to pick and choose every aspect of my shoes. I loved deciding on the leather, the heel height, the shape. It was so much fun. And, when the shoes arrived, they were like nothing else available. It was awesome. My girlfriends asked where the shoes came from, and if I would commission their designs too, which I did.

… And the co-founders who believed in the idea

I wouldn’t have thought to turn it into a business had it not been for my two co-founders Mike Knapp and Michael Fox. They were both working at Google and were really excited about the potential of online retail. They just needed a great idea…. And designing your own shoes online was it. That is how Shoes of Prey was born.

Educating the public

In the beginning it was a huge battle to get other people to understand what it was we were doing – The education we had to give was huge. We also had to build our reputations from scratch – who were these three twenty somethings building a totally pie-in-the-sky idea?

We overcame this through perseverance. Shoes of Prey broke even after two months of business, so we were quickly able to prove the demand for the service we were providing.

The inevitable growth

I’ve loved seeing the growth of the company over the past eight years. We started out as a team of three, working from my one bedroom apartment in Sydney – since then we’ve become a team of 150 people with offices in Australia, Tokyo, Manila, LA, New York and China. I’m so proud of how far we’ve come and where we can go from here.

And the personal growth, too

The personal journey has surprised me the most about running my own business.  I assume this is similar for all entrepreneurs simply because starting your own business demands everything from you. I could never have understood or expected the way it would shape me.

The best part of the job

I’m lucky because my job takes me around the world, where I meet different and inspiring people every day. While it’s sometimes difficult to travel as much as I do, I never take for granted that I’m getting to do a job that I am passionate about and love.

The perks of being a Shoe Queen

I’m lucky to work with shoes everyday, but it means that I do have a huge number of them! Because I generally wear monochrome colours, I like to try and add a pop of colour or texture with my shoes. I’d decide my style as classic with edge. At the moment I am loving pointy-flats. They are so comfortable and easy to wear, but stylish and go with everything.

If I had to pick one or two of my favourite heels, I do love a dark, textured heel, it adds a bit of personality to an otherwise serious look. Otherwise, I’ll go for something fun like our Carla shoe (which we created in collaboration with Australian fashion legend, Carla Zampatti) – a gorgeous pink silk heel that is perfect for a dinner date to a night out with the girls.

Favourite Aussie designer

I love Australian designers. My wardrobe is dominated by them, including Dion Lee, Bianca Spender, Ellery, We are Handsome and Carla Zampatti.

Advice for new entrepreneurs

As an entrepreneur, there aren’t courses or training that can provide the lessons you learn from just getting in and getting it done. Don’t wait until you are ready – do everything before you are ready. Don’t let your expertise – or lack thereof – get in the way of a really good idea.

Finally, my 3 key pieces of advice:

  1. The words I live by are ‘do everything before you are ready’. Don’t wait or hesitate.
  2. Have confidence in your business idea and yourself.
  3. Do what you love.

Thanks Jodie for sharing your insights with us!

All images via Shoes of Prey

 

 


This is the unlikely story of Lizanne Falsetto, a basketball-loving ex-model who became a Femme Fatale Wellness Queen. 

You gotta hand it to some people.  They know how to dance to the beat of their own drum, and in following their own unique passions and talents, they’ve made a life and a career of it.  Meet Lizanne Falsetto, a former model turned entrepreneur, who combined her love of fitness and food and created thinkThin, a high-protein food brand offering delicious treats all while keeping you trim.  She did this without tertiary education or a business mentor.  Here’s how Lizanne followed her passion down the path to profession, and how she maintains it.

I followed my intuition

My career started organically through my personal need to find food I could take with me on the go. I had the chance to take a college basketball scholarship or pursue modelling, and I followed my intuition, which led me to an international modelling career at a very young age. It was then that the idea for thinkThin was created.  I needed high protein, delicious food that was easy to eat on the go without being unhealthy – choices were limited, and I knew it was a void I could fill.

I decided not to take on debt

I knew there were several ways to finance a business, but I decided not to take on debt or a partner due to expense and stock value.  I was very creative with rotating payables with receivables and not over spending cost. Lean and mean.

Choices were limited, and I knew it was a void I could fill

It took 20 years to build the brand – the journey was a long one. A defining career highlight has been to see thinkThin become a household name and brand. Seeing my brand on thousands of retail shelves worldwide is definitely one of my proudest accomplishments. Now I enjoy the freedom of running my own business.

I manage my time around the kid’s calendar

I spend each morning fixing breakfast and taking my kids to school, then off to the office for long days, then picking the kids up after school and working from home while they are doing homework. I manage my time around the kid’s calendar. My priorities today have changed as my kids are teenagers and need more of my time.

I choose to work hard and play hard. It’s more about work and personal life integration, which works best for me!

My leadership style is to motivate employees and inspire better performance

At the same time, I also believe in mandatory procedures, quotas and other controls to encourage employees to work harder to improve production. I encourage career development and support activities that endorse the employees to benefit from their commitment to the company.

My mission is to support women who support women

I love what I do and thrive in every aspect. The best part of my job is watching my brand turn into a household name. Since growing in my business and in life, it’s now part of my mission to support women who support women, spreading the message of kindness and optimism in the workplace. We’re all trying to get ahead. That’s the best part since achieving success – sharing my woman wisdom with other women who want to grow and do it positively.

Lizanne Falsetto, Founder of thinkThin

Lizanne Falsetto, Founder of thinkThin

Trust your gut

In business and life, we are faced with many decisions, personal, customer, product etc., and many factors affect judgment and what we decide.  You know that professional decisions don’t always have to be based upon facts.  Trust your gut.  And when the gut and head are aligned, these decisions will feel right.

That’s the best part since achieving success – sharing my woman wisdom with other women

Create and build up a good team

I believe hiring good employees is the most important part of business and the biggest challenge. From hiring your first to 50th employee – it is a significant milestone. Solidifying your culture and branding message is key. Small business owners often feel the pressure to hire the right employees. Small businesses cannot always afford the most competitive salaries or other perks of larger businesses. But, it’s financially risky to hire the wrong candidates, as the cost of losing employees is also expensive.

Lizanne’s top 10 tips for staying healthy – even when you’re busy!

1. Start Your Day Off Right, Eat Breakfast: Eating breakfast is important for sustaining energy levels and aiding in blood sugar management.  I go for thinkThin Oatmeal, 10 grams Protein, 5 grams fiber – it’s both delicious and fills me up.

2. Don’t Rely On Coffee: Coffee can make you hungrier.

3. Stay Hydrated: I drink a lot of water and Aloe Vera juice

4. Try not to eat packaged or refined foods

5. Eat local, whole foods

6. Try to bring food with you to work and dine out the smart way

7. Choose healthy protein rich food: My trainer tells me, “breakfast is for Kings, Lunch is for Queens and late dinners are for your enemies”.

8. Avoid Anything White: White Flour foods are all processed. Instead, enjoy whole grain breads

9. Carry portable snacks that are tasty and good for you: Small meals everyday. Try to work in Almonds or protein bars throughout the day to keep your energy strong!

10. Think Positive!

 

Featured image via Pixabay under Creative Commons CC0


“What’s in a shoe?” I hear you ask.  Is the height of the heel in direct correlation to the extent of a person’s ambition?  What about a flatter heel?  Does footwear comfort equal comfort in addressing senior management, new clients or team members?

Clothes maketh the man, so what do shoes say about women?

Jodie Fox, co-founder of Shoes of Prey, and her team gathered data nationwide to find out the shoe habits of women in each state.

“It’s interesting that despite a relatively homogenous fashion offering around Australia in high street stores, there are clear distinctions in preferences for different heel heights and shoes between the Australian states. Each state definitely has its own shoe identity”, she says. “The average preferred heel height is declining around the world – down to 8.1cm from 8.9cm in the last two years”.

“The global decline in average heel height can, in part, be attributed to the fact women can now choose a heel height that suits them”.

Jodie is quick to point out that, due to the rise in popularity of customisable fashion, women are now choosing heel sizes that suit them, rather than relying what’s available in stores.  “But certainly a much wider range of heel heights are now considered just as fashionable — shoe-lovers who still want high-end fashion, with a few customised tweaks to a traditional high heel, can get the perfect solution,” she said.

 So, on this, our Red Heel Day, let’s take a look at how we stack up nationwide:

Australians wear above global average heel height

Globally, the average heel height is 7cm, but Australian shoe lovers wear, on average, an 8.3cm heel.

West Australian women wear the highest heels on average of all the states

South Australians and Canberrans wear the lowest heels.

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Queenslanders are most likely to choose flats

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Women from New South Wales like their heels high

They are the most likely to choose mid-height heels (7cm) and second most likely to choose high heels (10cm). They are least likely to choose flats and kitten heels (5.5cm).

Shoes-of-Prey-Leaders-in-Heels-img3

Victorians are the most likely to choose high heels (10cm)

South Australians are most likely to choose kitten heels (5.5cms)

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Canberrans are the least likely to wear high heels

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Thank you to Jodie Fox and the rest of the Shoe Gurus from Shoes of Prey for their insight and images. 

In an ideal world, what you do for a living should reflect who you are, i.e. what you’re interested in, what you’re good at, what you want to do on a day-to-day basis.  “Choose a job you love”, the old saying goes, “and you never have to work a day in your life”.

But your work life shouldn’t just be about the fact that you’re “good with numbers”, “love to write” or that you’re a “people person”.  It should also be about supporting your belief system and what’s important to you. Who you are shouldn’t stop existing once you step out of your front door.  What’s important in life should be important at work, right?  The Executive Creative Director of branding/activations agency 31ST:SECOND, Rachael Egan, talks about how she built a business based on her principles. 

Why did you decide to start your own business?

We worked together at a previous agency where we were not only integral members of the senior management team but also the three of us were good mates that forged a great working relationship. Like all great adventures, the idea for our business was conceived one night over drinks. Ultimately, we wanted to have an awesome agency that we would be proud of by doing it our way, working with great people, creating standout work and enjoying ourselves along the way.

What are some company values that are important to you?

We believe that as an agency we are “Better Together”.  Our values are to be Real, Curious and Effective, underpinned by being “Better Together”.

How have you created your company culture?

Rachael-Egan-Leaders-in-Heels

Executive Creative Director of 31ST:SECOND, Rachael Egan

Our culture is a very important part of who we are. We encourage all our staff to live our company culture and philosophy: to embrace and create new ideas, challenge convention, be noticed (in a good way), enjoy ourselves, be respectful and respected, open, have fair, courteous relationships with clients, staff and suppliers, be grounded, encouraging, hands on and caring.

We attract and retain the best talent with these staff engagement strategies:

  • We have a “family comes first” policy (flexible hours for parents to pick up their kids or for non-parents to get to doctors appointments)
  • We give our staff bonus days off (no-one works on their birthday / Xmas to New Year days off)
  • We have an Employee of the Year award (which promotes personal growth within the team)
  • We invest a substantial amount into staff training including an annual off-site conference
  • We share and celebrate at the end of each big campaign

We wanted to have an awesome agency that we would be proud of by doing it our way, working with great people, creating standout work and enjoying ourselves along the way

What do you look for in employees? Do you have a particular hiring process in place?

We look for employees who are a great cultural fit, can add value to us and our team and people who are better than us!

Is there a philosophy that the business is based on?

To embrace and create new ideas, challenge convention, be noticed (in a good way), enjoy ourselves, be respectful and respected, open, have fair, courteous relationships with clients, staff and suppliers, be grounded, encouraging, hands on and caring.

Why do you think it’s important for a business owner to run their business based on their own unique principles?

It’s important for a business owner to lead with the same values as what they expect their staff to which in our case is working “better together”.

Featured photo credit: Rachael Egan

 

EricaEnriquezPhotoErica Enriquez
Erica is a Sydney-based writer and digital marketer, and can often be found pounding away on a keyboard, writing about everything from travel, lifestyle, well-being and anything in between. When she is not writing, she is STILL writing, developing copy and content for websites and marketing collateral. Erica is passionate about film, literature and culture (high brow and low brow), as well as pro-social causes supporting cultural engagement (counting travelling as one of them). In her spare time, she loves nothing more than to curl up with a good book, go for a nice dinner with friends or spend time with her partner.

 


One sad, sorry Wednesday morning, whilst lying in bed scrolling through my Instagram newsfeed and ignoring the many alarms emanating from my clock radio, I came across a particular meme that stopped me in my tracks.  It was an image of popstar Beyonce Knowles on stage, in costume, mid-dance move.  Arms high above her head.  The caption read, “You have as many hours in a day as Beyonce”.

I’m not encouraging everyone to become Beyonce, but social media was right.  Beyonce DOES have the same 24 hours in a day as us mere plebs, and while I certainly don’t aim to be a pop culture phenomenon (or suggest that her lifestyle and music is for everyone), I do know that I certainly have 24 hours in my day to achieve amazing things.  Just like you. Just like Australian pro surfer Sally Fitzgibbons.  Just like my hairdresser Sarah.  Just like my good mate Jen.

So what does it take to achieve amazing feats of excellence in the same 24 hour period as everyone else?  What sets those that do apart from those that don’t? How do they motivate themselves through rough patches, how do they remain humble whilst still reaching for more?  Five of Australia’s top athletes, Jessica Fox, Sally Fitzgibbons, Jordan Mercer, Ellyse Perry and Anna Flanagan, give us their inside scoop into their passions, inspirations and motivations behind who they are and what they’ve achieved.

1. They were all influenced and inspired by other people

Greatness doesn’t exist in a bubble. Sure, it ultimately comes from within, but without great role models or personal cheer squads in our corner, clamouring for our success, it can be a long and lonely road to where we want to be.  Sally Fitzgibbons says top athletes serve as her inspiration, particularly Australian former Olympic track athlete John Landy.  “He exemplified the meaning of hard work, determination and wore his heart on his sleeve”, Sally says.  For Australian world champion slalom canoeist Jessica Fox, people who overcame obstacles to reach their goals serve as her inspiration.  She cites Olympic Gold Medallist, Australian track cyclist Anna Meares as someone with tenacity and mental strength.  “She overcame so many setbacks in her career to come back and perform in those major competitions like the Olympics”.

But it doesn’t always have to be people in your industry that influence and inspire you. Ironwoman Jordan Mercer draws inspiration from kids with special needs, thanks to her charity work with the likes of Noosa Seahorse Nippers, Surfers Healing and Paddle4Autism.  She also draws inspiration from family, like her Aunty Jen.

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Australian Women's Hockeyroo Anna Flanagan

Australian Women’s Hockeyroo Anna Flanagan

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Australian Women's Cricketer and Footballer Ellyse Perry

Australian Women’s Cricketer and Footballer Ellyse Perry

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2. They maintain a life that doesn’t always revolve around chasing their goals

Being goal-orientated is a great thing, in fact, it’s essential to achievement.  But being a well-rounded individual is also important.  It keeps you grounded, it keeps you sane.  If you’re constantly chasing your goals without taking a step back and experiencing the joys the rest of your life can offer you, then what is the point of all this goal-chasing?

Top athletes are the same.  All-rounder Ellyse Perry, who represents Australia in both cricket and football, maintains hobbies and goals separate from her competitive sporting life.  “I study part time at uni, spend a lot of time at cafes, and love seeing family and friends”, she explains.  Australian field hockey player and Hockeyroo Anna Flanagan is much the same.  “I love blogging and writing”, she says, “But otherwise skateboarding and hanging out at the beach are where you will generally find me in my free time”.

3. They know the importance of staying healthy

We all know that life gets busy sometimes, and you might be too busy to hit the gym, or make yourself a nutritious meal, or hell, even just have a proper breakfast.  But life is a marathon, not a sprint, and burning out due to stress or poor diet and inactivity is the quickest way to stop you reaching your goals.

Mercer is a big believer in food being the best source of nutrition, by fuelling your body with food that will nourish you, without potions or pills.  Fox agrees, and stresses that fad diets and supplements aren’t always the best thing for you.  “I really just believe in a balanced diet, and that you can get everything you need from a good diet. I tend to try and stay away from fads, and try and eat for my exercise”.

In fact, it’s a point echoed by Flanagan, too. “A healthy lifestyle is far more satisfying than constantly being on fad diets and yo-yoing with weight”, she says.  “Exercise makes you happy, and is so good for your body”.

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Ironwoman Jordan Mercer

Ironwoman Jordan Mercer

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Slalom Canoeist Jess Fox

Slalom Canoeist Jess Fox

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4. They are passionate about their passions

As you’d expect from top performers, their passions really are their passions.  It fuels their lifestyle, it gets them up in the morning, it pushes them to try harder.  This is how you should be with your passions, too.  Find something you know will make you happy pursuing, and gets you going.  Fitzgibbons says it’s important to see women loving what they do in life.  “I’m passionate about seeing women radiating happiness, standing up for what they believe in and living their passion with confidence and pride”.

Perry knows that her passion for sports fuels her, with or without the accolades.  “Even if I didn’t make it to the highest level, I’m sure I would still be playing sport, but from the moment I played my first game for Australia, I knew I wanted to make it my career”.

A healthy lifestyle is far more satisfying than constantly being on fad diets and yo-yoing with weight

Flanagan’s passion for field hockey grew when she represented the country at the Olympics, particularly as she was surrounded by other athletes at the top of their game.  But it’s what you put into your passions that produce what you get out of it.  “I truly believe that what you put into a career, you will get out”, she says.  “I think good things don’t come easy, and it’s reminding yourself of what you want through the hard times”.

5. They know how to motivate themselves and remind themselves of the why behind their actions

Sometimes you set yourself a goal and then work towards achieving it, but then lose your path along the way.  Maybe you needed to take a side step in order to go forward, or even pause for a while to train or retrain, or focus on your family or health.  Whatever the reason, if your motivation is strong, you will continue on your path no matter what.  “I always have my ultimate goal of becoming World Champion to motivate me and push me through those hard days when you are exhausted”, Fitzgibbons explains.  “It gets me out of bed before 5am every morning to go out and work harder than the previous day”.

Australian professional surfer Sally Fitzgibbons

Australian professional surfer Sally Fitzgibbons

Perry also finds that just getting up and out is a step in the right direction.  “I always find once you get going, it’s never as bad as what you thought it was going to be, and I always end up enjoying it”.  Sure, you might not be a champion athlete, but this positive attitude can be used in any situation.  Got a presentation you need to prepare for?  Need the push to finally work on your resume for career progression?  It’s the motivation to just get up and take that step that makes the difference between sitting still or moving forward, even just slightly.  Fox definitely applies this mindset to her training routine.  “The saying goes that the only session you regret is one you didn’t do”.

Remember also that your why is important. Why do you want to achieve this goal? What is it about this lifestyle that makes you so determined to strive for it?  Mercer gives herself short-term and long-term goals to remind her that the hard yards she’s working through now will all be worth it in the long run.

The only session you regret is one you didn’t do

If you want to succeed in anything, be it in your career, your health or your finances, your determination to make it through the rough times are what’s going to get you to your goals.  Fitzgibbons remembers clearly the advice given to her by tennis legend Martina Navratilova, “She told me that champions adjust. No matter what obstacles you are faced with, they find a way to be the best they can possibly be”.

All images courtesy of athlete’s promoters and used with permission. Featured image via Pixabay under Creative Commons CC0

 

EricaEnriquezPhotoErica Enriquez

Erica is a Sydney-based writer and digital marketer, and can often be found pounding away on a keyboard, writing about everything from travel, lifestyle, well-being and anything in between. When she is not writing, she is STILL writing, developing copy and content for websites and marketing collateral. Erica is passionate about film, literature and culture (high brow and low brow), as well as pro-social causes supporting cultural engagement (counting travelling as one of them). In her spare time, she loves nothing more than to curl up with a good book, go for a nice dinner with friends or spend time with her partner.