Sticky tape and plastic
Do it yourself
Sticky tape and plastic
Do it yourself
When? 10:00am - 3:00 pm, Saturday 3 September, 2011
Where? Shoes of Prey Headquarters - Studio 12, Level 1 285A Crown Street Surry Hills NSW 2010
Present this letter (electronically or printed) to gain entry to the sale.
*Please note that this sale is only of samples that we have ready-made in our headquarters. It does not extend to custom-made shoes.
Sneaking Duck is a new online optical dispenser and a new brand in eyewear. We’re an internet start-up looking to grow fast and have fun doing it. We love cool glasses and we love having a pair for every mood. We’re tired of one mega-expensive pair bought only because the last pair died.
We are about to launch a website where customers can browse and chose frames, upload a prescription and have their frames land on the doorstep a few days later. We’re looking for a qualified optical dispenser who loves people and who wants to live the start up journey with us. Our centrally located office is action driven, but casual and fun.
Attributes, qualifications and experience
Key tasks and responsibilities
Full time position
Office in Surry Hills
In the months prior to launching Shoes of Prey, Mike and I planned to rent an apartment and spend a month each in China to get our processes and systems in place with our suppliers. Mike had spent 6 months in Shanghai working for Google and made the excellent suggestion that we should hire someone for 2 months to translate and assist us while we were in the country. When he was in Shanghai Mike had made a few local friends and one of them, Alice, was between jobs, so we hired her to come down to Guangzhou to work with us while we were in the country.
We quickly realised that having Alice work with us was critical to the business and making us much more efficient.
Building the Team
Alice had always planned to head home to Shanghai at the end of 2 months so when we realised that having someone on the ground with us was so critical for our business we asked Alice to advertise for a permanent role with Shoes of Prey in Guangzhou. Alice used a Guangzhou based jobs site, similar to Seek in Australia. After reviewing 20 applicants and interviewing 5 people, we hired Vanessa, our first permanent employee. Vanessa proved to be an amazing hire. She was incredibly hard working, diligent and had excellent attention to detail and after only a few weeks training she was fine to take over our Chinese operations when Mike and I both returned to Australia. We used Google Docs and Gmail video chat to keep in regular contact with Vanessa.
5 months later our sales had grown to the point where there was too much work for just one person in China. We asked Vanessa to advertise to hire an assistant to work with her. We left this hiring process entirely to Vanessa and using some local job boards she hired Qun to work with her. Qun also proved to be a great worker.
4 months later Mike was in China again. He was having dinner with one of our suppliers and one of the waitresses impressed him with her attitude to her work, her friendliness and her excellent English skills. Jodie and I interviewed her over video chat and Penny became our third hire in China.
At the same time we hired Penny we moved our office about 150km from where it was located in Guangzhou. Qun was happy to make the move but Vanessa missed her friends to much so decided to stay in Guangzhou. To replace Vanessa he asked her to advertise on a local job website and through that we hired Holly.
The business continued to grow so we asked the team how we should go about hiring the next person. Penny had a good friend from school who was living in the area and spoke excellent English so we all interviewed Jophie and agreed she would make an excellent hire, so she joined the team.
Next we wanted a skilled shoe maker to assist us with our quality control processes and operations in China. We talked to a number of different suppliers we had worked with in the shoe industry to find out if they knew anyone who would make a good hire. After a number of interviews one of the manager's working for one of our suppliers recommended James who was an excellent fit and joined the team.
Finding the Right Manager
At this point managing our team in China was taking up a significant amount of Jodie, Mike and my time so we decided we needed to hire a manager for our China office. This proved to be a much harder hire to make. We tried contacts from our suppliers. We paid a recruitment firm to assist us. We interviewed about 6 or 7 excellent candidates who just weren't quite the right fit. A few weeks before we started this process a reader of our 22michaels blog, Matt Ho, had noticed that I was in China, as was a friend of his from high school, Ken Chan. Ken and I caught up for dinner and got on really well. As we were going through the process of trying to find a manager it clicked, 'What about hiring Ken as a manager?' Ken had grown up in Sydney but could speak Mandarin and Cantonese reasonably well. He'd worked for Accenture for a number of years in a management consulting role and had some great experience managing teams. And to top it off Ken was already living and working in China in the shoe industry! After a month or so of discussion Ken agreed to join us and now manages our team of 7 in China.
After having James on the job for a little over a month we realised that there were a lot more quality control and operational processes to work on than we had initially envisaged. Andy was working for one of our suppliers helping to train our team on a number of tasks and we loved his attitude and skill set. Our supplier was ok with us offering Andy a role with us which we did and he accepted.
Hiring great people is challenging enough in your home city but becomes even more challenging when you're going it in a foreign country. The 3 key lessons to take away from our experience are:
1. Make the most of any relationships and contacts you have through existing employees, suppliers and even people you meet at restaurants!
2. Like so many things in business, networking is critical. Let people know what you're doing through your blog and your personal and professional networks. You never know who may know someone who might be a suitable hire.
3. Most of all, there's no replacement for spending time on the ground in the new city. Between Mike, Jodie and I we've spent a combined 10 months in China over the last 2 years and without that, we couldn't have hired the fantastic team we have based there today.
I wanted to do something B2C and experience suggested that industries with a couple of large, offline players dominating the market potentially provided a good opportunity. This is because margins are likely to be higher, and customers are more likely to be keen to try out a new, interesting and innovative company.
Eyewear fits this perfectly. OPSM and Specsavers have well over half the market between them and currently only operate offline here. Michael, Mike and Jodie had spotted the opportunity on a previous buying trip to China, realising that the margins being charged by these giants must be significant, given manufacturing costs. Together we developed a more detailed plan, and became convinced that there was an opportunity to retail cool and distinctive eyewear at prices that allow people to own a collection to match every outfit and mood, not just a single expensive pair they own for years.
The name Sneaking Duck came from an evening with pizza and wine and the Igor naming guide - we wanted something cool and memorable, that would conjure up a fun and cheeky image in peoples’ minds. We steered away from ‘functional’ names, instead looking for something interesting that we could build our brand around.
In a few weeks we’ll be launching a well-edited range of frames to the Australian market - sign up for updates at www.sneakingduck.com or like us on Facebook. Every frame in our range has been carefully selected so that people can build up a ‘frames wardrobe’. Customers will browse and choose online before entering the technical details of their prescription. A few days later the frames arrive. As we tested the idea with friends, the most most common challenge raised was ensuring fit. It’s for this reason we’re creating a fun online retail experience where you can see yourself in frames before buying, as well as offering a very generous returns policy.
Price will be competitive and simple - every frame at $180, including prescription lenses coated against reflection and scratches. Buying multiple pairs is what we’re all about, so every additional pair on each order comes at half the price, again, including lenses. This puts our prices well below comparable offline products. The only ‘extra’ we’ll be charging for is ultra-thin lenses, but certainly not hundreds of dollars extra like on the high street. This simple approach is in marked contrast to the more common approach of a seemingly competitive advertised price to draw in customers, that then gets inflated by numerous lens, coating and multiple pairs options.
What are your thoughts on our pricing point and strategy?
A diary of our adventures, successes, failures and everything we learn as we attempt to start a business or two.
Our first project: Shoes of Prey - design your own custom women's shoes.
Our latest project: Sneaking Duck - new prescription glasses, everyday.