Meet the founder – Taylor Blake
I’ve known Emily Blake, Founder and Director of Taylor Blake for a while now. She’s freely shared her experiences of being a brand owner with me, and I’m grateful for her generosity.
Emily recently reached out to me to write a piece for her blog. I was delighted to write ‘My Long Love Affair with Ballet Pumps‘ for lovetaylorblake.com. I then asked Emily if she would be happy to be interviewed here, so you could benefit from her experience as a shoe brand founder.
Enjoy the interview, and please let us know which bits you find most useful in the comments.
Emily, please tell me about your brand, and why you started Taylor Blake.
Taylor Blake was formed nearly 4 years ago but has been an idea in the making for a lot longer. I absolutely adore ballerina pumps and personally live in them as I am a person who is constantly on the move! Comfort is imperative for my day to day wardrobe.
I have been a footwear designer for 18 years and mum to two fabulous children, one boy and one girl and I love working in shoes. I took a career break after having the children as flying off to the Far East to source materials just didn’t really work with two under 4’s at home, so I gave up my job to look after my family for a few years.
I still had the ideas, the passion and the drive for designing shoes but I wanted to change my direction. Throughout my career I have always worked on a large scale. Big shoe orders, from big companies, with big factories, churning thousands of pairs of shoes out to far flung corners of the world. Boxes heading to the high streets of Britain and cartons departing for supermarkets and I loved it. The travel and the many fabulous people I worked with far and wide. But, I always knew that one day I’d work closer to home on a project that for me would be a little more special, something that would feel a little more personal. I knew that one day I would work with smaller European family inherited factories. Within a less frantic environment, where beautiful materials and high quality workmanship combine to create something a bit special.
What is the part of being a brand founder you love the most?
Making people love their feet! Its simple – I love that Taylor Blake ballet pumps brighten up someone’s day. I hear from my customers all the time when they post on social media or write on my website reviews – I have yet to receive below 5*’s! That really is the best part of my job!
What has been the hardest aspect of starting your own shoe brand?
Lack of funding! It is incredibly difficult to work against the high street and the huge
marketing budgets that they have in place. It is a constant worry but I have refused to cut
corners on quality as I truly want to create a product that I am proud of and that my customers will absolutely love!
What do you wish you had known before you started?
That you don’t need to do everything on your own! You become so conscious of budgets and saving pennies that sometimes this can have a negative impact and eat into precious time. You do have to outsource some of the work to people with the right skill sets. However, be prepared to learn absolutely everything that you can – sponge up as much knowledge as you can!
Day to day my job varies so much! My job is as diverse as designing shoes, working on marketing campaigns, talking to press and bloggers, packing and posting shoes, stock checking… Every single aspect of the company is my responsibility and whilst sometimes it can be overwhelming I’m amazed at how quickly I have learnt and am still learning new skills!
Are there any areas you needed help with, that you struggled to find support for?
Luckily I have met a fantastic network of women, mostly through events, that support and nurture the business with me. They have been amazing and have helped keep the sleepless nights at bay! Right now I am looking at investment links and I am at the beginning of that journey. I am very aware that this will bring many new challenges.
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?
As a designer my excitement and passion is always the launch of a new product. I get so giddy when I receive new samples and I am always so desperate to immediately show our audience! I love materials and trims so hunting out new ideas is always a thrill! And of course sales always cause a little Taylor Blake happy dance!
Thank you Emily for your candid answers!
To buy a pair of Taylor Blakes or follow the Taylor Blake journey:
If you’ve been inspired to start your own shoe brand by the Taylor Blake story , I’d love to help.
If you’re ready to receive support in achieving your shoe brand goals, I’d be delighted to hear from you. Send me a message when you want to start making your business dreams a reality. I can’t wait to hear from you!
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