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