Thursday, September 30, 2010

Why custom designed shoes?

A questions we're often asked is, 'Why did you decide to sell custom designed shoes online?'. It's an obvious question to ask and I recently realised I haven't actually written a blog post on this.

We came at the idea from two angles:

1. Mike and I were working at Google but were keen to have a proper go at a startup after experimenting with Darwin Dating and Swift City part time a few years before. We were thinking about good industries to be in. I had developed a passion for retail while working at Supercheap Auto prior to Google, and after spending some time in the UK and US with Google I'd seen first hand how far behind the Australian online retail market was, so we figured that might be a good industry. Through Darwin Dating we'd seen that a concept that people wanted to talk about was not too difficult to market. PR pitches are much easier if the story is innately interesting and people like to tell their friends about interesting things. We figured with the growth of social media over the last few years this impact will only grow. So we wanted a product that was unique, different and that people would want to talk about.

2. On holidays to Europe Jodie would always organise 24 hour stopovers in different Asian cities so we could visit some local stores where you can custom design shoes. She'd design the shoes in the store then we'd head off to Europe and the shoes would be waiting for us when we got home to Australia. On subsequent trips friends were asking Jodie to design shoes for them too. Clearly women loved the concept of being able to design their own shoes and word of this idea had spread easily amongst Jodie's friends.

In December 2008, while taking a break over Christmas these two ideas came together and we decided that an online store where women could design and order their own shoes might be an interesting concept to explore. To get to where we are now, we spent the next 4 months putting together a business plan and talking to as many people as we could about the idea to get their insights. In March 2009 Jodie and I took some annual leave to find suppliers. Mike left Google in May 2009 to start work on the website and shoe designer. I left Google in August to organise the operations side of the business. We launched on 8 October 2009 and hired Vanessa shortly after to manage our operations in China. Jodie joined us full time in January to focus on marketing and PR. We launched Shoes of Prey Japan in May, hired Qun the same month, hired Carmen in June and launched Shoes of Prey Russia last week. We've funded the business ourselves and we're having a lot of fun.

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