Meet the founder – Jibs Life
Life is full of accidental meetings. I was introduced to Natalie Kathleen – Founder + CEO of Jibs Life by another business founder. Stephanie Melodia (who introduced us) is the Director of Bloom: a marketing agency for start-ups. Bloom are well worth speaking to when you need help with your shoe brand marketing.
Although I met Stephanie at a networking event in London, her shoe brand founder friend Natalie is based in the USA. I love it when a conversation with a stranger inserts two inspiring people into your life.
Natalie, please tell me about your brand, and why you started Jibs Life.
My aim with Jibs Life was to create a product that brings people together, whether it be on a hiking trail, a boat, a bicycle ride, or a vacation. Jibs are addictively stylish perforated sneaker-shoes, inspired by the summer in New York City.
Our perforated leather slip-on shoe (‘The Jib’) reigns from heritage and craftsmanship of the tropical Brazilian perforated leather beach-to-city shoe. We’re on a mission to see our sustainably made Brazilian beach leather sneakers (recycled PVC soles!) roaming the coastlines while cleaning our oceans worldwide.
My goal is to create a working environment that gives people a platform to share and connect, and inspire them to do good. Not just for themselves but for each other and the planet.
What is the part of being a brand founder you love the most?
Building a team, internally and externally, learning from so many people whom I never knew I would get to know in my life.
What has been the hardest aspect of starting your own shoe brand?
The chicken and egg of scaling. The balance of nurturing the brand through infancy while knowing that product quality and offerings can increase exponentially once quantities of production is increased.
What do you wish you had known before you started?
Hire experts where your skills lack. E.g. Employing the knowledge of export experts from Brazil now saves us extreme shortfalls in time and costs associated with Brazilian bureaucracy I had no idea about.
Are there any areas you needed help with, which you struggled to find support for?
This is my first footwear venture, second accessories brand, therefore there are MANY areas directly in the “shoe dog” world that I’ve had to learn from Size Packs to Inventory Buying to the importance of 1mm height on the heel of a slip-on style… and the list goes on!
It’s natural for start-ups to see their launch as a sort of end point. What is the key to success after the excitement of the initial launch has subsided?
The launch is only the very very start of life as a brand. The launch = time to learn, to listen to engage with customers and to treat the entire product life cycle management as a trial. Pressing go on launch leads to opening up to the rest of the learning and improvement journey.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions Natalie. With Jibs Life you’re doing amazing things for shoes and the planet.
You can find Jibs Life here:
If Natalie has inspired you to start your shoe brand journey, I’d love to help you. As a forward-thinking shoe industry professional with 25+ years experience, I look forward to making the path to success smoother for you.