MOST GIRLS become a little giddy when it comes to adding a pair of fabulous shoes to their collection but when you add “customised” to the equation, giddy goes off the style
richter-scale, which is why every devoted stylehunter is mad about Shoes of Prey and because we love what you love, we jumped at the opportunity to chat with Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, Jodie Fox about her recent design collaborations with some of our favourite style and beauty gal pals Megan Hess, Eleanor Pendleton and Kim Jones (Miss Jones). So grab yourself a coffee and take 5 for yourself (you deserve it) as we bring to you all the juicy details of our interview, including Jodie’s top 5 instagram picks, how she is leading the ‘disruption game’ and that moment when she ever so politely bumped Karl Lagerfeld off the top spot in the world retail awards!
SH: From Law to Advertising to Fashion Disruptor. Tell us a little about your entrepreneurial journey and how you found your niche?
JF: I grew up in the north east NSW in country town Lismore in a Sicilian/Australian family from humble backgrounds. After completing high school at 17 I had a huge dilemma. I had always been very creatively orientated and I’d been accepted to study dance, but at the very last moment I flipped my first preference to study International Business and Law. I made this decision because I wanted to know how the world worked, and I felt that while I was in such a creative mindset, I would never truly understand that. It was the right decision at the time and I don’t regret making that choice. I completed my degrees in International Business and Law, and started my career at a top 5 law firm, then known as Blake Dawson Waldron, now known as Ashurst.
Working at the law firm was fantastic and was incredibly valuable. I worked with amazing people on exciting cases and while it was interesting, my heart just wasn’t in it. The longer I was there, the sadder I became. It’s the first time that I realised how important it is to be passionate about what you do.
When I fully came to terms with this, I made a list of things that would make me happy. Not just in my career, but in my life as a whole. I began to really grill everyone I knew about their industry — What did they do day-to-day? What did they love? What didn’t they like? What did they imagine happening in the future?
I took those answers and compared them to my list. When I really looked into it, the career that came out on top was advertising, so I went and learnt about building a brand, before deciding to build one of my own.
The moment that led to me working on Shoes of Prey full time was less about anything specific that happened in my career, and more about the fact that it was time to have a go at making this business happen.
I was solving a problem of my own. I liked shoes but I never really loved them until I could customise them. While traveling, I found someone who could create unique designs that suited all my needs and preferences and I would get compliments from friends asking where my shoes were from. Once I started commissioning designs for friends, I knew that I was onto something. I spoke to my two co-founders, Mike Knapp and Michael Fox, who were working at Google at the time. They were looking for that one lightbulb idea and Shoes of Prey was it.
SH: “Disrupter” has become a bit of a ‘buzz’ word but you have been doing it since 2009….. How have you maintained your disruptive edge within an environment and industry that is fiercely competitive ?
JF: Shoes of Prey isn’t limited by trends, and that’s where our strength lies. Being completely customisable, we are able to provide women with the base style, which they can then alter and tweak to suit their needs and preferences.
Retail is a competitive industry and we are definitely seeing customisation take off. The way we stay ahead is by really listening to our customers, knowing what works, what they want and where we can can continue to provide the best experience.
Over the past year, we’ve launched updates to our classic silhouettes and have also launched our new customisable boots range, which was largely directed by the feedback that we received, noticing that there was a real demand for this.
Shoes of Prey sets itself apart by not dictating trends, and this has been the driving force since we started. We are all about celebrating uniqueness and everyone’s different style. We listen to our customers and provide them with the tools to create their own unique designs.
SH: A core value of your business is centred around freedom of expression without compromise, how would you describe your own unique sense of style?
JF: In a nutshell — classic with a hint of edge. I love interesting silhouettes and playing with different textures. I tend to go for a monochrome palette usually but that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy the occasional pop of colour! I don’t really have a hard and fast rule when it comes to style, as long as the items are beautifully made and fit with the way I feel that day. You shouldn’t have to compromise your style for what’s on trend — you should feel comfortable and confident in your choices.
SH: 6 million designs to date! Was that kind of success anticipated or has the business grown beyond your wildest expectations?
JF: When we started, we were three people in a living room with an idea that no one had ever done before in the retail space. I don’t think any of us ever thought we’d reach such a scale!
However, it is humbling to know that people love what we’re doing and we’re proud of what we’ve built. Ultimately, we look towards our customers to help us understand what is working and what they want to see more of.
SH: You have quite deliberately chosen 3 other influencers who are also known for their disruptive persuasion for this project; what was it specifically about these women that drew you to a collaboration with them?
JF: We’re incredibly thrilled to collaborate with such inspirational and talented women to launch our Inspirer Collections, a collaboration series that is all about harnessing your passion and having the courage to let that lead you. We are celebrating the individual styles and inspirational stories of these talented and daringly different women who stepped forward and chased their passions to build successful careers.
Megan Hess, Kim Jones and Eleanor Pendleton come from different walks of life and we all had similar experiences doing something we didn’t truly love, before taking a leap of faith and chasing our passions. Each of their personal stories of change, challenge and ultimate success are truly inspirational and we hope our collective stories empower women to be true to themselves, from their career paths, the things they love, down to the shoes they choose to wear everyday!
SH: How many of those 6 million designs have ended up in your own personal shoe collection? Dare I ask how many pairs you own or is that number a secret?
JF: It’s not a secret at all but I do have a fair few!
I actually haven’t kept count – But I will say that the biggest allocation of storage space in my apartment is for my shoe collection…!
SH: How do you see your business evolving over the next 3 years? What can we expect to see from Shoes of Prey?
JF: We have a dream of what Shoes of Prey can become in the long term, but in the next three years we’ll be focussing on bringing more beautiful elements to design your shoes with, and making sure that the experience you have from brand to website interface is as intuitive as possible. We have some really exciting work to explore on this front.
What has been the biggest ‘pinch yourself” moment in your business so far?
Being a finalist in the World Retail Awards 2013 has got to be up there with one of those “is this really happening?” moments. We were so thrilled to make it through to the final round, especially when we saw that we were named alongside fashion mogul Karl Lagerfeld and Puma, we just couldn’t believe it!
Being up against such iconic names in retail, we naturally thought the chances of us winning were slim, so we didn’t attend the ceremony in Paris. It was through the glow of my iPhone at 3:00am with Facebook notifications that we found out we’d won. We were ecstatic and so proud to be recognised. It was definitely one of those moments where we really stopped and realised how far we had come.
SH: What is the best piece of advice someone has ever given you about working in the fashion industry?
JF: The best piece of advice I’ve been given wasn’t specifically about the fashion industry but it really applies to every industry and how I approach all things in my life now.
My co-founder Mike Knapp taught me the important lesson, and that was to “fail fast”. When you’re faced with something that you’ve never done before, like we were, and had nothing to base it off as we were the first to do something like this in a retail space, the best thing is to just dive straight in. It’s easy to want to wait until everything is perfect but really, there is no actual point where that happens, you will always find that something isn’t quite right. By actually doing things, you find out very quickly what your strengths are and what you need to focus on and improve. It’s the approach that we took when we first set out establishing Shoes of Prey and one that I continue to use in my day to day life.
SH: Can you give us any hints as to what your collection and contribution to this project has been inspired by?
JF: The recent collaborations we’ve worked on with our Inspirers — Megan Hess, Kim Jones and Eleanor Pendleton — are really special to me, as each of our leading ladies and their collections embody everything that Shoes of Prey stands for. We are all about empowering you to create something that truly reflects your style and individuality. The Inspirer Collections tell the stories of incredibly inspirational women who stepped forward and chose to follow their passions, refusing to have their lives dictated to them. We want to inspire and show women everywhere that you can do and wear what you love and be true to yourself — this is the very essence of what Shoes of Prey is about and why I started the brand.
My collection will be unveiled in December and represents my own personal style.
SH: Ready. Set. Speed Date!
Lipstick or Lipgloss?
Heels or flats?
Favourite place to unwind
In the company of my closest girlfriends
Date night outfit
Short black dress, Shoes of Prey mid-calf boots (It’s starting to get cold here… brr!) and Burberry leather jacket slung on my shoulders in case I get cold, YSL Betty handbag, blowdried hair and a smile 🙂
The one thing you wish you had less of
My cat’s fur around my apartment
If your life had background music playing right now, what would you be playing?Pompeii by Bastille
@CJ_Hendry – An incredible sketch artist
@TheDesignFiles – Super personable, Australian-flavour interior design
@NatGeo – Incredible photos of mother nature (and one of those must Instagram accounts to follow!)
@Ballerinaproject_ – Urban environments meet beautiful ballerinas – So stunningly shot