5 myths about starting a shoe brand
I have been helping people to start shoe companies since 2015, and I know that each stage takes focus and a lot of support. There is no fast track to success for someone who wants to launch a shoe business.
Over the years I have heard numerous misconceptions about what it takes to start a shoe brand. Now it’s time to dispel those myths!
1. You need a degree in shoe design
You don’t have to be creative to start a shoe business. In fact, many of my clients don’t have footwear backgrounds at all. They are people like you, who have found a niche, and decided to fill it…with shoes.
When you need design assistance, you can engage a freelance shoe designer to help. You can also learn about shoe construction on a short course or from this book (which I didn’t write, but I will receive a tiny fee if you purchase it via my affiliate link):
2. Make it and they will buy it
The truth is nobody is waiting for you to launch a shoe line. If you go ahead with design, prototyping and manufacture without knowing the market you are entering, you are unlikely to succeed.
Do your research and build an audience first, and you stand a much better chance of creating a successful shoe business. My How to Start a Shoe Brand online course guides you through the whole process, so you don’t need to worry that you’re wasting time focusing on the wrong areas.
3. The solution that nobody needed
It is common for people who start a shoe company to overcomplicate their designs. They automatically assume that adding technology to a shoe will make it more useful. If the shoes currently available to buy aren’t providing the solution to a problem, then adding an extra widget will do that, right? Not necessarily.
Shoes are built the way they are for a reason. A foot is a complex structure comprising 26 bones and other complex engineering. Shoes are designed for rigidity where we need it, flexibility where our feet flex, and an ability to stay on as our feet move and distort. The problem with some shoes currently available is that they haven’t been made with love and pride. Why am I getting emotional here? Just try on a pair of beautifully made Italian shoes and you will see the difference.
So before you start applying for a patent for your clever new shoe technology, consider whether going back to basics would help you create the solution your customers need.
4. Design comes first
Actually you need to understand who your customer is and what drives them, before you can finalise your designs.
Building a detailed profile of your target consumer is the first and most important task you should complete when you want to start a shoe collection. This will become the basis of all of your decisions.
– Should I sell direct to consumer, via the wholesale channel or both? Examine your customer profile, to see how and where they like to shop.
– Is style a) better than style b)? Which would your customer find the most useful or compelling?
– Which social media platform should I focus on first? One glance at your customer profile will tell you where your potential customers hang out.
5. Selling direct to consumer is easier and cheaper
When you sell to other retailers via the wholesale channel, they put your products in front of their established customer base. This is effective marketing, especially if you have partnered with retailers whose customers match those in your customer profile. The main drawback is a drop in margin compared to selling directly to your customers.
If the only place your potential customers can find you is online or at events or pop-ups, you will need highly effective PR and marketing. It’s much harder for someone to find a new brand online, than if their products are on the shelves of a popular retailer. You will need to consider the cost of digital advertising via pay per click (PPC), and ensure that your SEO terms are niche and targeted. Customer acquisition cost (CAC) is high online, so be prepared to invest.
Even if your sole promotional strategy is to get your brand in front of potential customers on social media platforms, you will need to calculate the cost of that. Using these platforms effectively can be extremely time-consuming. Do you have time, or will you need to pay someone to help? You may also need to pay to promote your posts to increase your reach.
Now you are ready to embark on this exciting adventure with your eyes open. For a comprehensive guide which takes you through every step of starting your own shoe business from concept to launch, check out my How to Start a Shoe Brand online course.