How To Develop A Shoe Brand
Posted on February 15 2021
Without prior business experience or knowledge of the footwear industry, how is it possible to develop a shoe brand? As Founder of specialist corporate women's shoe brand Louise M I share how I developed my very own shoe brand.
Having seventeen years experience as a flight attendant working long hours on my feet in trying conditions including turbulence, I had a complete understanding of what was needed to make women look professional while being comfortable on their feet. Using this knowledge I searched the world, and perfected the shoe specification of Louise M over several years. We are proud to have what our clients consider to be the best cabin crew shoes in the world and being called the most comfortable corporate shoe brand on this planet by businesswomen.
Passion, research and education, along with determination and resilience is needed to build any business. I suggest a good start to developing a shoe brand is to consider the following points.
➀ Determine your ideal client using demographics, psychographics, or an industry.
A niche is recommended rather than being broad. This will provide a focus for product manufacturing and marketing.
➁ Find solutions to your ideal clients problems.
This can include comfort, safety, a particular style to meet company standards, or the ability to perform on specific surfaces. eg ballet shoes, steel capped boots.
➂ Decide on the location of production as this will affect quality, quantities, costs, travel time, and delivery times. eg. Asia, Europe, Australia, South America
➃ Choose materials to suit the purpose of the shoes. Does the shoe provide safety for work places such as hospitals and mining, or is your brand to follow high end seasonal fashion trends where luxury leathers are the most suitable.
Materials include but are not limited to leathers such as cow, calf, goat, lamb, pig, kangaroo, or the more exotic crocodile or snake, synthetic (man made), rubber, and foam.
➄ Align a cost and retail price point that meets your business goals and your client market. You are in business to solve a problem for clients and make a profit.
➅ When searching for a supplier/s look for those that you can establish a mutually respected relationship with to ensure sustainability of your product. Will travel distances and language barriers hinder production for instance.
Research and education is also essential and can be gathered along the way. It is important to have an understanding of industry terminology, materials available, and the shoe making processes to communicate with your supplier and to make best decisions for your product.
Search online for industry information, subscribe to footwear newsletters, read or listen to audible books, I enjoyed reading In My Shoes by Tamara Mellon and Shoe Dog by Nike Founder Phil Knight. Attend shoe fairs and footwear courses, and speak with potential clients and industry experts. Gather as much knowledge as possible before going into production however remember learning is ongoing and improvements to your product can be made along the way.
One of the most valuable forms of education I received was attending 'The Traditional Art of Shoe Making'. This course was offered by the most coveted Italian bag and shoe making school in Milan, Arsutoria, in conjunction with Fashion Footwear Association of New York. To spend time with Italian and United States footwear experts who attended and presented was an invaluable investment.
It is possible to develop a shoe brand without prior knowledge but you must have grit to endure the long term commitment. The challenges that are put in front of you at many stages along the way will test you and yet reward you.
I suggest if developing your own shoe brand, take a step and another will follow. This same advise can be used for many business startups.
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