It had been a long time since I spotted a gap in the footwear market and a long time until I decided I was going to be the one to fill it -with my big feet! I’d always had a love/hate relationship with shoe shops. I loved the beautiful shoes. I hated that few of them came in my size and so I’ve decided to make beautiful shoes that fit well. I also want to make lots of money in doing so! A friend suggested I join a local start-up business group in my area, and so I landed on the doorstep of StartUp Croydon, keen to begin their 3-day course. It became clear to me that there was a lot I needed to learn and understand and so I enrolled in the 4 month, Building Business Horizons programme, where I put my shoe filled sketch books down and got to grips with the “business” side of business.
Even with the uncertainty surrounding business and Covid, I was still able to lay down a flexible, yet strong business plan and road map, giving myself room to pivot quickly if ever things were to suddenly change.
Initially, I spent a great deal of time on research: reading through hundreds of pages of reports; analysing tables and graphs from around the world; and collecting data from surveys, proving to myself that my business idea was definitely a viable one. I took part in the BBH pitching competition, for which I presented a5 minute pitch and answered questions from a panel. I came 3rd from my group and won £250! Go me! I put this money towards applying for a trade mark and a footwear training course at the University of Arts London.
I also took part in the NatWest £10K Pitching Challenge, for which I put together a one minute pitch. To prepare, I recited the pitch to anyone who would listen, but I was still fairly nervous when it came to the competition day. I was able to sail through the pitch and confidently answer the questions the panel put to me. Out of 758 participants, I came 7th.
While I narrowly missed out on a prize, I was grateful for the experience and later thrilled to gain John Walsham, from Start Up
Croydon, as my ongoing personal mentor. John (previously Operations Director, now retired from StartUp Croydon) helped me to set targets and assisted me in unfamiliar areas of business with his advice.
One of the most difficult hurdles I am still overcoming, is not having a basic knowledge of the footwear industry. This is why I felt it
important to seek professional guidance, by enrolling on a footwear course. And while most of my time is spent sitting behind a computer, I was able to arrange a day to measure the feet of a group of women, for which I employed a shoe expert. The data collected is crucial for the manufacture of my shoes and so it was vital that the measurements taken were correct and accurate. I am now able to have sample shoe lasts made (the moulds used for shoe making), and later, my first shoe samples!
Due to Covid, it has taken much longer than I had hoped to reach this stage, but because I have the skills to pivot, I’ve been able to hone in on other areas of the business and adjust my plans for the better.
I’m really looking forward to progressing on to the next stages, with the continued help and support from the Start-Up Croydon and BBH
teams. I cannot recommend them enough!