What do you do?
I have two companies that design, manufacture and distribute ladies’ shoes: Lisa Kay London, which launched in 1982, and Sole Bliss, which I started last year. The business model for each brand is very different. Lisa Kay London offers fashionable ladies’ footwear for all occasions, from day time to events dressing, and we sell to shoe and fashion retailers across the UK, Ireland and Europe. Sole Bliss offers ladies who suffer from bunions and other foot problems the opportunity to enjoy the same fashion and comfort in their footwear that non-sufferers are accustomed to. Sole Bliss sells directly to the customer via an e-commerce website. It took five years to research and develop the technology in each pair of Sole Bliss shoes – it’s been a labour of love.
What’s been your greatest achievement?
The success of Sole Bliss in its first year has been my greatest achievement. The gratitude of the thousands of ladies who have bought the shoes has been overwhelming. Celebrity endorsement has also helped sales. When Helen Mirren wore her Sole Bliss heels on the red carpet at the Venice Film Festival last summer, the shoes she was wearing sold out in a matter of hours.
What has been your biggest challenge?
As an online brand, our biggest challenge has been to reach certain customers who typically prefer to buy shoes in store. So in addition to successful digital marketing campaigns, we have also incorporated more traditional methods into our long-term strategy, such as features in the printed press and appearances on radio and television.
What are your plans for hitting your targets?
We are rolling out a marketing campaign to raise awareness about bunions. There are ten million female bunion sufferers in the UK alone (38% of all women aged 30 and over). Typically, women who suffer from bunions are embarrassed by the appearance of their feet. They give up trying to find fashionable shoes because they don’t believe they will find the comfort they crave. Watch this space as we’re also launching a number of other exciting projects too.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give fellow entrepreneurs?
Always go with your gut instinct – if something feels like a good idea or opportunity, stick with it – for as long as it takes. Write lots of “to-do” lists, work your way through them and never give up.