When did you start your business & why?
I launched my company, The Shoe Consultant in 2015. I wanted to use the knowledge I’d gained from working in the footwear industry for 17 years (21 now) to help people.
When I was global women’s product manager of a shoe brand, I didn’t feel that I could make a big difference to people’s lives. Now I give talks to women’s groups about how to find comfortable, beautiful shoes; I write light-hearted and informative articles packed with shoe tips; and I consult for start-up and established shoe brands.
What’s been the highlight of running your own business so far?
My favourite elements of running The Shoe Consultant, are speaking to large groups, and receiving positive feedback from happy shoe brand clients. In 2019 I talked at two big trade shows: Pure London and Moda UK; an industry awards ceremony; and two universities. When you run your own business, you can take credit for the successes, and it feels great.
How do you organise your time?
It takes a lot of discipline to focus on tasks which are moving the business forward, and not feel my email inbox is my new boss. I find planning my days, and putting time slots for each task really helpful. That way I’m in control of the sequence of tasks, and can put priorities first. Frankly, I’m still working on being as efficient as possible.
I recently employed an amazing intern (Dahlia), who is helping me by sharing the workload. She’s also great at implementing new systems for improving our productivity.
What’s the biggest life lesson you want to pass down to your children?
Be yourself, because you have unique gifts. If you can’t be yourself at work, make a plan to find an employer who gets you, or start your own business. There’s nothing more satisfying than being complimented on your work when you know you’ve put your heart and soul into it.
Also, every person can make a big difference in their field. Never think you’re too little (I’m five foot two) to make a difference.
What business tip would you give to mums thinking of starting out alone?
Take the risk, because if you don’t, you’ll always wonder “what if I had?” It’s not easy starting and growing a business, but I can honestly say that it’s one of the three best decisions I’ve ever made. The other two? Saying yes to a date with my now husband, and deciding to try for a baby (although that felt like an innate need rather than a rational decision).
What’s does your ‘mum uniform’ comprise of?
I’ll start with my footwear: coloured Chelsea boots or trainers. Chelsea boots have elastic at the sides so they’re easy to get on and off in a hurry. Closed toe styles are essential when you’re hanging out with a little stomper.
Jeans, and a T-shirt or (easily washable) jumper are my default for parenting purposes. My earrings (now I can wear them without fear of my son yanking them out) and shoes are always the highlights of my mum outfits.