In every sense of the phrase, Lisa Mandy Seskin is a true leader in heels. Quite quickly after founding her own shoe brand (worn by Bella Hadid!), she realised there was a highly committed market for vegan shoes. Not wanting to alienate customers, especially those who loved her brand, she developed her first entirely vegan collection. However, like many businesswomen, Lisa knew that having a great product simply wasn’t enough and thus she developed a strategy working with influencers, to raise awareness and sales. Read all about Lisa’s journey below.Continue reading →
More than 4,800 stores in the US have closed their doors so far this year and 18,000 since 2017. Let’s take a peek at why these stores are closing and ask what major brands plan to do with their retail processes? If you haven’t already guessed, they’re bringing their retail operations online. So, what can we learn from these closures and companies? Effective eCommerce strategies for engagement and sales!
Tesla Motors is closing their brick and mortar doors this year (all of them) and making vehicle orders exclusively available on the web. So, it seems that eCommerce is granting major retail companies increased ROI.
What happened to the omnichannel trend?
Rest assured, it hasn’t gone anywhere. We’re a long way from a future of storefront-free shopping.
Let’s use Amazon, the world’s largest global online retailer, as an example. While they are dropping some offline innovations from their operations, their unique ‘cashierless’ shopping experience at Amazon Go is thriving in Seattle, Chicago, and San Francisco.
From the looks of it, Amazon Go locations aren’t leaving us anytime soon. In fact, they’re probably only going to get better.
So, how can you compete with big box retail?
The easy answer would be to tell you to follow Amazon’s lead and add machine learning, computer vision, and artificial intelligence to your operations. However, that’s not exactly the right solution. Not only can this be an overwhelming amount of technology to add to your plans, but according to a global study by Pega, consumers haven’t exactly boarded the AI train.
- 8o% of consumers still prefer to chat with a real person vs a chatbot about customer service needs.
- 45% of customers would prefer to reach out to a live representative on the phone vs an online chat, social media message, or in-store conversation for customer service issues.
- 38% of consumers don’t trust that AI can provide the same or better levels of customer service than a human.
Still, according to the same study, consumers believe the potential is there for AI to outshine human assistance. Furthermore, most people would be more open to AI over human interaction if it could save them time or money, and they are more comfortable with AI in retail applications than they are other industries like healthcare, finance, government, etc. While consumers aren’t standing with open arms to welcome Big Brother into their lives, they gladly embrace convenience.
So, don’t put automation on the backburner. You should implement eCommerce technologies that make the online shopping experience simple and pleasant. Just make sure to engage your customers in a reliable, trustworthy way.
How to build trust at each stage of your sales pipeline to increase eCommerce Engagement and Sales
You can’t just throw up a store, add your products, and expect you’ll hit it big. You need to first build a strong foundation for your customer relationships; this comes through building trust.
Stage 1: Awareness
The first stage a customer goes through before making a purchase is “awareness” of their problem. There is a product out there to solve the problem, and you might be inclined to throw your products in consumers’ faces. However, that’s not how you attract new customers and retain existing ones.
Instead, you want to get your voice out there for people to hear through awareness marketing:
- Social media
- Search marketing
- Advertising (PPC and offline)
- Influencer mentions
None of the marketing types above come without work. Even influencer marketing requires a solid marketing plan on your part. What you need to keep in mind when implementing your awareness-stage campaigns is that this is not the time to promote. Instead, at this point, you need to be a problem solver – establish yourself as an authority.
At this stage, post helpful content — not your goods — on social media. Publish an informational blog full of helpful and relevant advice for your readers rather than just bragging about your brand.
Any ad campaigns you run should be educational. For your influencer campaigns, instead of paying influencers to post pictures of your products on Instagram, pitch interviews and provide something valuable for their followers.
Stage 2: Consideration
Your potential customers are now considering solutions. This is when you can help them by being available. Make sure your product pages are optimised and make sure people can find them. Easily.
At the consideration stage, your possible buyers are in social media groups looking for recommendations, they’re searching for the products they want on Google, they’re subscribing to your newsletter, and they’re following the links at the bottom of your blog to move through your funnel.
This is when you want to have well-written product descriptions, images, and ads that showcase what you’re selling in a way that makes people want to purchase, or at least sign up to learn more later. It is also the stage where you want your product pages to show up in search results. Think of this as the phase of capturing your leads and implement strategies that help you do just that.
Stage 3: Decision
Now, you’re working with leads that want to make a purchase — from you. At this point, you are not only available, but you’re ready to streamline the buying process with personalised product recommendations based on what they’re searching for, fully-disclosed costs, shipping deals, sales showcasing your best selling products, directions to the nearest brick and mortar location, and a streamlined checkout process.
You need to consider how you can make the buying process as easy as possible, for all consumers. Assume that everyone is going to view your website from a mobile device and a computer. If you’ve got a physical location, make sure you assume people will shop online and make a purchase in-store. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t just focus on one aspect of your marketing and sales – keep things simple, yet inclusive.
After the sale, here’s what customers expect
Your job isn’t over once your lead makes a purchase. You need to impress your customer with the quality of your products and services to build loyalty.
After the sale, there are still four critical points where you need to be impressive:
- Shipping – If you can’t beat Amazon’s shipping speed and prices, at least be sure to inform your buyer of their order’s status. Send regular updates about progress, including when the product is shipped and when it can be expected to arrive.
- Delivery – Upon delivery, notify your customer that their order is waiting for them via email or text.
- Product Quality – In the age of Wish App and other low-cost, low-quality goods, you can stand out by offering products that customers are delighted to open. Make sure to choose a product manufacturer that can meet the demands of your shoppers.
- Follow-up – After your customer has received their product and has had ample time to use it, reach out and ask how everything is going. Shoppers appreciate follow-ups, and this gives you an opportunity to find out how you can improve and ask for ratings.
Once you’ve mastered these, you’re on your way to the top of the mountain.
About Ashley Kimler
Ashley Kimler is a freelance marketing consultant and the Captain of Conversion at Heroic Search in NYC. She regularly shares her business knowledge across the web, so follow @ashleykimler on Twitter to see what digital marketing crimes she and her team are fighting.
Do you recall when you started your business; when you woke up each day full of ideas and couldn’t wait to get to work? Unfortunately, when the novelty of something new fades and the day to day requirements of running a business take over, you can find yourself in routine that dampens the enthusiasm.
One of my first businesses was walking and boarding dogs. I love animals and I enjoy creating my own schedule. I was very excited. The business was growing, yet I was bored. It had become monotonous and I really didn’t enjoy the marketing which was required to keep it going. These were things I could have changed, had I really looked at it. Instead, over time I slowed down the creation of new clients, and basically ran my business into the ground. I have learned a lot since then.
Boredom is feedback telling you that it’s time to adjust what you are doing. Often, we wait, hoping it will go away. Unfortunately, that’s akin to an ostrich sticking its head in the ground. Everything is still the same, you are simply tuning it out. There is good news, it is possible to use the boredom to re-ignite your creativity and grow your business!
Be willing to commit to your own happiness
Because I am unwilling to remain bored or disenchanted I now re-create my business as is required. I learned to listen to my boredom. I question what I really desire my business to be, and what is and isn’t working. Above all else I commit to my own happiness.
Be willing looking at your business and be honest with yourself about what is really going on. What was your vision when you started your business? Perhaps your business has strayed from what you desired to create. Or, it’s possible you created what you desired, but it doesn’t fit your life as it is right now. Is your business fulfilling overall?
Money follows joy, joy doesn’t follow money. The happier you are with your living and in your business the more income you will invite into your life. Don’t fall into the trap of waiting for more money to show up to choose what makes you happy. When you have a business, it is a large part of your life. Make it work for you!
When you ask open-ended questions from a space of pure curiosity, you are inviting possibilities to show up. Let go of any conclusions. If you have pre-determine what will the answer should be, you won’t be able to see anything else.
For example, you can ask: What do I need to change to re-engage with my business? What is possible here that I have never considered? Who or what can I add to my business to make it more enjoyable?
Play with the questions, and know you aren’t looking for a concrete answer. What you are asking for is awareness of what is going on and how you can change it. Notice what shows up and any ideas that come to you, and follow what is light or expansive.
This may sound obvious, after all, who else would you be? However, many entrepreneurs are trying to fit into some image they bought into about what a business owner is supposed to be like. There are certain norms we accept as absolute without even realizing it. Have you bought the point of view that you have to be superwoman and do it all yourself, working so hard you give up you in the process? Allow yourself the time to have a full and fruitful life, don’t let everything outside of work fall away. Remember, money follows joy!
Is your role in your business one you enjoy; if not how can you adjust it? Consider delegating tasks to someone who would excel at them. Or, hire someone to do some of the things that detract from your enjoyment.
Is how you work working for you? If you are most productive in the morning, take advantage of that. If you do best with lots of time outside, allow yourself some breaks to take a quick walk or feel the sun on your face. Use the flexibility of having your own business to your advantage and allow yourself to shine.
Had I used these tools with my dog walking business, I would have known I required more variety and that doing it all myself wasn’t working. I could have added some doggy adventures in places I love, like hikes in the mountains or beach outings. I could have hired another dog walker – increasing income without overscheduling myself. And I certainly could have hired someone to help with marketing. The possibilities were endless.
Play with your business
Invite a sense of adventure back into it, and allow it to be fluid. Don’t be afraid to make big changes. One key to success is being present and interactive with your business to find out what works, and then not coming to a conclusion that you have found the answer.
Always be willing to add, remove and change elements of your business. If you try something new and it doesn’t work, change back or tweak it until it does work. Instead of judging it as a failure look for the information the situation is giving you. Choice creates awareness and invites more possibilities to show up. There is always something else you can choose.
When the fun of creation gives way to maintenance, boredom is not far behind. Find the joy in playing with the recipe of your business; add an ingredient, change the quantities of certain elements. Make improving your business recipe an ongoing target and you are sure to stay engaged, and your business will be even more successful!
Gabrielle Vena is a life coach and business mentor with a background in counselling psychology and psychotherapy. She is a certified facilitator of several Access Consciousness® special programs, including Being You and Joy of Business and is a certified practitioner in Reiki and Integrative Energy Therapy. Learn more about her at www.gabriellevena.com
My name is Melissa Stevens, I’m an entrepreneur and this is the story of how I bought a dropshipping e-commerce site and doubled its monthly sales to $10,000 in just one month.
Lightingshoes.net is the site. It sells light-up shoes to consumers of all ages and walks of life. For toddlers, kids and adults too, we offer sneakers, low tops and high tops in various designs and colors.
Last month we attracted 11,000 visitors to the site, and earned $10,000 in sales. This month we’re on target for $15,000, and I’m confident we can continue to increase sales as the business and our marketing develop.
How I Came To Own lightingshoes.net
I’m a software developer and I was exploring the idea of a SAAS product to sell to users on a recurring monthly plan to bring in some passive income. A friend recommended I check out Shopify. He believed there were great opportunities to create plugins for the Shopify market. I really liked Shopify, but it wasn’t clear to me what Shopify users wanted or needed from a new plugin.
I decided the best option was to become a Shopify site owner myself, and I searched for a Shopify business for sale that was already established and getting orders. The next day, I was the proud owner of lightingshoes.net.
I jumped on the site quickly because I felt it was such as good deal. I’m sure you want to know why. The owner was asking only $8,000 for it, and average monthly sales over its 6 month lifespan were $5,000, with a profit margin around 20%.
The reason the price was so low was the amount of work needed to make the site a proper business, and the issues that had to be fixed after I bought the site.
1. Unreliable suppliers
Dropshipping from our supplier in China was by far the biggest issue. It was taking over 2 weeks for the shoes to arrive, and customers weren’t happy. I found a supplier with a warehouse in the US that would ship shoes directly to our customers in 3-5 days. It was no easy feat, and took well over a week to research suppliers and eliminate bad or expensive ones.
2. New merchant account needed
There were too many chargebacks due to the issues with the previous supplier. So I needed to get a new merchant processor set up when I bought the site.
3. Poor site design
It’s the details that really make a site, and lightingshoes.net was missing all the refinements needed. The site loaded extremely slowly, there were spelling errors in the logo, the footer was inaccurate, and many other problems needed fixing. I did a good amount of redesign to make it look like a real business and a site that people would trust.
How I Doubled The Conversion Rate And Sales
Now, the juicy part. The site was converting at 1.10% when I bought it, and within one month I’d increased conversion to 2.07%. This doubled the number of sales and the value of the asset. Here’s how I did it.
1. Added Discount Pop-Ups
When a visitor first arrives on the site, I added a pop-up 10% discount if they share or like us on social media. I also added an exit popup, advertising $10 off if they stay on and shop with us. In the month of March, 14 people used the intro popup coupon, and 23 used the exit offer. That’s more than worthwhile, assuming just 50% of them are customers we wouldn’t otherwise have sold to.
Shopify Plugin used: Better Coupon Box.
2. Added Sales Pop
I added a little pop at the bottom of the user’s screen showing them “Person so-and-so from such-city just bought these…” I don’t have the numbers, but this helps build trust with customers who can see others are buying from us.
Plugin used: Sales Pop.
3. Improved Product Images
With Adwords, anything that differentiates you from your competitors is a good thing. An image of your product on a white background converts best. That’s common knowledge with Adwords, and what I and every other LED shoe site was using. So I hired a Photoshop expert to change the images and make them stand out.
4. Added an Abandoned Cart email series
I added marketing directed at visitors who had come to the site, started the checkout and abandoned before completing it. The previous owner missed the opportunity to follow up on these visitors, despite having their emails! We got 12 sales in the month of March from this.
The Fruits Of My Labor
The result of my work was doubled revenue to $10,000 per month, and a profit margin around 25%. The business is essentially hands off for me – about 2 hours per week – since I hired a VA to handle customer support and work with the vendor. All in all, a nice asset for generating passive income.
My immediate plans are to increase the site’s SEO and social media reach. I want to establish it in the top rankings for all searches related to its keyword.
I’ve already been approached by some potential buyers. When the time is right I will turn the asset over to the right buyer. I’d expect a possible 7x return on my investment.
My Top Advice For Passive Income Seekers
Do your due diligence. Really investigate every little detail, do your research thoroughly and use expert help. In all the excitement and optimism for making money and that the project is going to be easy, be sure to think through how much hard work it’s going to take before launching into your business.
Reinvest the income from your site back into the business. For the future return I’m expecting, I’ve been pouring a significant amount back into SEO.
Melissa Stevens is an entrepreneur in pursuit of a passive-income lifestyle. She is part-owner of lightingshoes.net, a dropshipping Shopify store selling light-up footwear for everyone, specializing in light-up yeezy inspired shoes. You can see an example of their adult shoes here.
Yuliya Raquel is the CEO and co-Founder of BootstrapFashion, and the Founder and former Fashion Designer and Creative Director of IGIGI by Yuliya Raquel brand founded in February 2000.
An award-winning fashion designer, accomplished creative director, brand and women’s fashion e-commerce expert with strong skills in fashion design, merchandising, visual brand and marketing, Yuliya has a passion to produce results.
Yuliya is an outspoken women’s empowerment activist and entrepreneur with the mission to transform the world’s view of beauty and to democratize the fashion industry. She is also a forward-thinking leader with a keen entrepreneurial background and an eye for identifying new and innovative opportunities for fashion and ecommerce businesses and providing insight and strategies to capitalize on them.
I had the privilege of discussing with Yuliya her thoughts and experiences in the fashion industry, being a woman in business, and her visions for her new business BootstrapFashion. Here is what Yuliya had to say!
Yuliya, you were very successful with your fashion label IGIGI. What compelled you to start BootstrapFashion, and what problems in the marketplace did you see that you wanted to solve?
There are several reasons I left IGIGI in 2013. I recently found myself a divorced, single mother of two and chose to use my new-found energy to propel my career to new opportunities where I could continue to do what I love yet make a bigger difference and positively impact the world. For me it’s a priority to be a positive role model for my children and to empower them.
I had recently found myself a divorced, single mother of two and chose to use my new-found energy to propel my career to new opportunities…
When I started IGIGI without any funding and manufacturing experience, I discovered that the process of running my own fashion business was extremely complex, expensive and simply said, grueling; there were no easy-to-use, affordable tools available.
For me it’s a priority to be a positive role model for my children and to empower them.
I realized that there could be thousands of designers out there with the ability, talent and skills to create fashion that would allow women to know themselves as beautiful and feel powerful and confident in the clothing that they wear. I dreamed of creating a social marketplace where anyone could simply design a custom dress or launch and operate a multimillion-dollar fashion business. It is then the idea of BootstrapFashion was born.
In BootstrapFashion I have used all my experiences to provide a solution to every obstacle and hurdle I had to personally overcome while running a fashion business.
Where did you get your inspiration for BootstrapFashion?
I spent over 20 years in the fashion industry, first as a custom dressmaker, Indie designer and later Head Designer of an international fashion company. I dreamed about finding easier, less expensive and faster ways to design a production-ready collection. Yet nothing of the kind was available. The variety of patternmaking CAD software that existed on the market were expensive and required specialized skills in both patternmaking and learning the workings of each CAD system, which took time.
The creative fashion design software for illustrations was also expensive, and conceptualizing, sketching and drawing a technical flat illustration for each style took hours and sometimes even days, greatly reducing productivity. It is from these experiences that I wanted to completely automate the design and product development processes.
My goal was to create online software where ANYONE – even people with no experience – will be able to create an original design, get a technical flat sketch, and a color/fabric rendered illustration with a custom-fit sewing pattern of that design, in less than 30 minutes – while actually enjoying the entire process!
Where do you see BootstrapFashion having the most impact?
I foresee the biggest impact will be with Indie designers and DIY sewers, who will be able to create unique designs and offer them for sale or make them for their own enjoyment, hassle free. However, there is also a huge opportunity to disrupt the larger fashion industry as well, allowing design companies faster delivery of their products.
What do you see as the biggest challenge of the future for the fashion industry?
I believe that the biggest challenge the fashion industry faces is it’s inability to quickly deliver fully customized fashion items, designed and made to consumers’ unique style preferences, their body shape and size, while providing superb quality at reasonable price and turning a healthy profit. Instead, there is a need to stock massive quantities of inventory that was produced based on the subjective point of view of merchandisers. Additionally, the time that it takes fashion companies to design and develop each item and then produce the inventory reduces their profits significantly, forcing them to make it up by using significantly cheaper fabrics and paying extremely low sewing costs.
How do you think that social media has impacted the fashion industry and how can designers leverage it effectively?
Social media has played an important role at taking the first steps at democratising the fashion industry and creating a two-way dialogue between consumers and fashion manufacturers. For the first time in history consumers have an opportunity to become fashion critics, expressing their desires, likes, and dislikes publicly through comments and blogging. Designers have an opportunity to leverage social media, to listen to the feedback from their targeted customers, as well as building relationships with fashion bloggers, who have become a force to be reckoned with influencing fashion trends, promoting brands and designers. This is one of the reasons we have developed a social platform in Bootstrap Fashion where designers can collaborate with fashion influencers, brand themselves, and even develop a following and a customer base before ever going to production.
What are your thoughts on sourcing and operating ethically and how do you see this is impacting the fashion industry?
I believe that ethical fashion production means combining sustainable textiles and fair trade manufacturing. Sadly, in my opinion, the fashion industry as a whole is challenged by this due to its struggles to recover exorbitant development costs, lengthy delivery timelines and inventory overproduction – while staying competitive! Thus companies are forced to use very inexpensive, low quality textiles and cut sewing costs, lowering the overall quality of the garment and paying minimal costs to the factories. This is one of the reasons we have also incorporated a service marketplace into BootstrapFashion, which we believe will lead to creation of over 2,000,000 home-based and small businesses, expanding local economies.
What are the biggest challenges you see that new designers face when starting their label and production line, and how best can they overcome these?
There are a few equally significant challenges that beginner designers face. They include solving design, development, sourcing, production and distribution, and the “I’ll do it all myself” or “I can’t afford to hire anyone to help me” mindset.
The way to overcome these obstacles is to streamline the entire process.
The way to overcome these obstacles is to streamline the entire process. It is important to have textiles available in a way that can be easily sourced and procured; to have access to service providers who can accommodate manufacturing of various volumes, whether it is one piece or one hundred thousand, in a fair but competitive pricing environment.
What would be your key pieces of advice for anyone wanting to start their own fashion business?
- Have patience and be ready to work long and intense hours
- Don’t take mistakes made by others personally
- Be open to reinventing yourself several times before you ‘make it’
- Know your target market
- Listen keenly to your customers
- Build a team, and give interns an opportunity if you are short on funds
- Think strategic, always streamline and do not get stuck in a single area
What do you love most about being in business?
I love building my own dream and future and having the ability to run with my visions and ideas, without having to go through tons of higher-ups deciding ‘yes’ or ‘no’. I also love seeing my vision becoming a reality and the kind of impact that it creates. Additionally, I love the flexibility of hours, being a mother of two. However, I sometimes do end up working 12-16 hours each day, sometimes until 3 am, so the working hours are long.
Who are your business mentors/role models and what do you find inspiring about them?
I love working with business mentors and find their input invaluable. Being a first-time CEO, I work with a coach and advisor, Gary Jinks of GLG Group, who helps me to develop myself as a leader of a high tech company. In addition we are starting to look for funding and I work with a seasoned fundraising coach, who is helping me to fine-tune my pitching and presentation skills.
Regarding my role models, Oprah Winfrey inspires me tremendously. Regardless of her early hardship, she was able to build an empire by revolutionizing television and positively inspiring viewers to transform their lives. I also have always admired Coco Chanel, who in her time was able to revolutionize fashion.
What has been your biggest challenge in running your own businesses so far, and how did you solve it?
Both of the business I started by bootstrapping, so having very limited resources yet taking on playing huge games has always been the biggest challenge.
What I find extremely helpful is having a ‘can do’ unstoppable mindset and instead of focusing on what is impossible to accomplish, my team and I look for what we can do to move us closer to our goal. Although we were told that a project like this would cost close to $1M dollars and require a very large team of people, the entire BootstrapFashion platform and the Design Center app were created by a team of three people!
If there were 2 people you could thank who have helped you get to where you are now who are they and why?
First is my co-founder and life partner, Don Straub, who has been a powerful stand for the creation and success of BootstrapFashion. Second is my family – my father, mother and sister, who have been standing by me, regardless how ‘crazy’ my dreams seemed to them. Their belief, honesty and acceptance of me have been an enormous blessing in my life.
Who is your favorite designer or fashion brand and why?
Aesthetically, I’ve always liked Ellie Saab and Valentino and some of my favorite brands include Nanette Lepore, Catherine Malandrino and Milly NY. However, I now prefer to have my clothing custom-made. The feeling of wearing something that fits me impeccably and hand crafted by a person who loves what they do is incredible – custom-made items have become my most favorite pieces in my wardrobe.
Finally, what’s next in your development and growth of Bootstrap Fashion?
BootstrapFashion will be launching an Indigogo campaign on February 1st to raise funds for additional design libraries and hosting servers. I invite readers of Leaders In Heels to support our effort to democratize and revolutionize the fashion industry!
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.
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:
- Is it something people would pay for?
- Are there lots of people that would pay for it? More than once?
- 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:
- The words I live by are ‘do everything before you are ready’. Don’t wait or hesitate.
- Have confidence in your business idea and yourself.
- Do what you love.
Thanks Jodie for sharing your insights with us!
All images via Shoes of Prey