How To Start A Shoe Brand

When it comes to starting your shoe brand, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some big decisions.

You may be asking yourself:

  • What's the first step in establishing my business?
  • How much will it cost to start my shoe brand?
  • How do I price my shoe brand?
  • How do I market my shoe brand?
  • ... so much more!

We walk you through all of the steps; from idea → starting → launching → growing → running your shoe brand.

The purpose of this guide is to act as an outline for the steps you'll need to take to get your business running successfully!

💡 Idea

Which Business Model Should You Choose?

When deciding whether or not to start a shoe brand, it's important to first decide if you want to operate a physical or online store (or both).

Physical Location

If you do plan to open a physical store, it's important that you find a spot in a high-traffic area. This is a great way to gain exposure for your business and also get new customers.

It's also important to consider the higher costs associated with operating a physical store (ie - employees, rent, utilities, etc) and the long days/hours associated with running a store.

The main benefit, however, is that customers love being able to see products in person. It's important to recognize that although some people enjoy shopping online, there will always be the shopper persona that likes to touch, feel and see the product they're buying.

Online Business

One of the main benefits of operating online is that you are exposed to the entire world, versus just one local area. Rather than depending on foot traffic, you have all the tools at your disposal to create exposure for your store online.

Additionally, there are much lower costs to operate an online store - fewer employees, you can operate from your home, and you get to create your own schedules (yes, holidays included!)

Although you are operating online and have the ability to connect with people all over the world, it's important to consider that you will need to invest marketing money upfront in order to promote your store to the right audience.

So, which business model should you go with?

Each model has their benefits, however, the consumer trends for shoe brand are shifting towards e-commerce businesses.

Players

Big Players

Small Players

Search Interest

Let's take a look at the search trends for shoes over the last year:

How To Name Your Shoe Brand

It's important to find a catchy name for your shoe brand so that you can stand out in your space.

Here are some general tips to consider when naming your shoe brand

  • Avoid hard to spell names: you want something easy to remember and easy to spell for your customers
  • Conduct a search to see if others in the space have the same name
  • Try not to pick a name that limits growth opportunities for your business (ie. if you decide to expand into other product lines)
  • As soon as you have an idea (or ideas) of a few names that you love, register the domain name(s) as soon as possible!

Why is naming your shoe brand so important?

The name of your business will forever play a role in:

  • Your customers first impression
  • Your businesses identity
  • The power behind the type of customer your brand attracts
  • If you're memorable or not

It's important to verify that the domain name is available for your shoe brand.

You can search domain availability here:

Find a domain starting at $0.88

powered by Namecheap

Although .com names are the most common and easiest to remember, there are other options if your .com domain name is not available. Depending on your audience, it may not matter as much as you think.

It's also important to thoroughly check if social media handles are available.

As soon as you resonate with a name (or names), secure the domain and SM handles as soon as possible to ensure they don't get taken.

Here's some inspiration for naming your shoe brand:

  • To Die For Shoes
  • The Shoe Locker
  • Shoe Show
  • Twinkle Little Toes
  • Perfect Pace
  • Sweet Pumps
  • Boots And Pumps
  • Runners Discount Shoes
  • Shoe Carnival
  • Soles In Heaven
  • Sole Purpose
  • Essential Shoes
  • Heels for Walking
  • Spring Into Shoes
  • Heels County
  • Your Shoes Now
  • Feet and Found
  • Shoes Are Us
  • Every Day Shoes
  • The Ultimate Shoe In
  • Stilettos
  • Thewalkingcompanion
  • Step Above
  • The Shoeroom
  • Walking on Air
  • Foot By Foot
  • The Come Up
  • Shoes For Life
  • On Air Shoes
  • Posh Shoes
  • Summer Finds
  • The Sole Connection
  • Leather Shoes For You
  • Creative Shoes
  • Lace Now
  • Perfect Ten
  • Hot Heels Boutique
  • Sneakerz Freaks
  • Neat Feet
  • Shoegazing
  • Clogged Up
  • Nice Pair
  • Tiny Toes for Tots
  • The Shoe Box
  • Vintage Shoe Palace
  • Manhattan Running
  • Klever Kicks
  • Elite Fashion Shoewear
  • Razzle Dazzle
  • Retro Boots
  • We Laced It
  • The Doll House
  • Laced In Luxury
  • Foot Forward
  • Tempted Toes
  • Paired Perfect
  • Triben Shoe Store
  • Sunnyside Shoes
  • New Kicks
  • Elite Urban Shoe Designs
  • Infinity Shoes
  • Weloveshoes
  • I Died And Went To Shoe Heaven
  • Glam Shoes
  • Sole Mates
  • Dancing Shoes
  • Citi Trends
  • Toasty Toes
  • Zegba Shoe Store
  • Comfort Shoe Closet
  • Youshoes
  • Shoe Sty
  • Planet Wear
  • About Face
  • Shoecase
  • Strappedshoes
  • Style On Your Feet
  • Satisfying Shoes
  • Shoe Babes
  • Shoe Wonder
  • Tip Top Shoes
  • Step Away
  • Give Them The Boot
  • Fashionwalks
  • See The Shoe

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🎬 How To Get Your Shoe Brand Started

Startup Costs

If you are planning to start a shoe brand, the costs are relatively low. This of course, depends on if you decide to start the business on your own or bring on a big team at first.

We’ve outlined two common scenarios for “pre-opening” costs of a shoe brand and outline the costs you should expect for each:

  • The estimated minimum starting cost = $2,350
  • The estimated maximum starting cost = $35,500
Startup ExpensesThese numbers are based off the average expenses incurred when starting a shoe brand. Min Startup CostsDefined as an shoe brand you have started and plan to execute on your own. You’re able to work from home with minimal costs. Max Startup CostsDefined as an shoe brand you have started with one other team member. You decided to rent out an office space to set up the business.
Licenses and Business FormationThis refers to setting up your business license and establishing any legal contracts. $250 $1,000
PayrollThis number depends on if you decide to pay yourself a salary up front and the amount of employees you hire. The average salary for a full-time shoe brand individual is $0 $4,000
Advertising/PromotionThis includes (but not limited to): paid ads, public relations, networking events etc. $200 $2,000
Website and Email HostingCosts to host website, domain names and email $100 $300
Website Design (Outsourced)Hiring an outside contractor to assist with design elements of your website $0 $5,000
RentThis refers to the office space you decide to work in. Depending on the cost of living, this number could vary. $0 $2,500
Shop DecorIf you plan to operate a physical store, you may want to consider decorating the place with wall decor, furniture, plants etc. $0 $7,000
InventoryThis includes all upfront inventory you will need in order to launch. Be sure to compare prices of wholesalers to ensure you're getting the best deal and margins remain high. $1,000 $8,000
Cleaning SuppliesTo get started, you may want to consider getting basic cleaning supplies. Note that you may not need to buy all the tools and supplies at first. You can consider purchasing in bulk down the road. $300 $700
Equipment and TechnologyThis includes (but is not limited to) any expenses such as: laptops, cameras, office supplies and technology platforms $500 $5,000
Total Starting Costs $2,350 (min) $35,500 (max)

Emily Casseday, founder of Blush Boutique Co describes how she was able to stay under $10K to get off the ground:

Because we were starting small, we didn’t have a lot of overhead. One of the biggest downfalls of starting a business is having too much to carry without a lot of income, which is why we decided to start in my basement instead of fully going brick and mortar.

We wanted to test the waters first to see if we had a viable business for our community. In order to finance the beginning of our shop, we used some savings and one credit card. Our goal was to never outspend what we made, so we started with a limit of $10,000 on the card and paid it off as we went. That first year, we didn’t take a paycheck so that we could completely get out of debt.

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Emilie Casseday, on starting Blush Boutique Co ($25,000/month) full story ➜

Raising Money

Since the startup costs to start shoe brand range between $2,350 - $35,500, there are ways you can raise money to cover these costs.

Here are a few ways you can secure additional funding:

Revenue Expectations

We've interviewed several different founders in the shoe brand and asked them how much $ they're making today.

CODDI™

  • $24K/year in revenue
  • Sells boots
  • Solo founder
  • 1 employee

KASA

  • $960K/year in revenue
  • Sells luxury shoes
  • Solo founder
  • 0 employees

Xero Shoes

  • $5.52M/year in revenue
  • Sells comfortable footwear.
  • 2 founders
  • 26 employees

Atlantis Shoes

  • $300K/year in revenue
  • Sells sustainable footwear
  • 2 founders
  • 2 employees

Scarpetta Shoes

  • $4.2M/year in revenue
  • Sells designer women's shoes
  • Solo founder
  • 25 employees

How To Find A Supplier For Your Shoe Brand

Here are the steps to consider when finding a supplier/manufacturer:

Know your design

One very critical step to finding the right supplier is having an initial idea of what your design/product will look like.

Sketching is one of the most simple ways to get started in the design phase.

What's great about sketching is that you can practically do this anytime, anywhere - even on the back of a napkin.

To get started, all you need to do is pick up a pen and paper and start drawing - or if you are working on a virtual/software product this can be a diagram that outlines the user interface or experience.

Decide your supplier type

You'll want to identify the type of supplier you are looking for.

Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself prior to searching for a supplier

  • Are you looking for a manufacturer to produce your product idea?
  • Do you want to find a supplier that can simply purchase existing products for you?
  • Do you want a drop-shipper to supply and fulfill orders?
  • Do you want a domestic supplier or an overseas supplier? Read more about the pros and cons of each here

Where to start your search

Once you have an understanding of what type of manufacturer/supplier will be best to bring your idea to life, there are several areas you can start your search:

Domestic Suppliers

Overseas Suppliers

Alibaba Tips From Founders

I did not have expensive prototyping design software, so my “designs” were free-hand drawings I created with colored pencils. It didn’t cost thousands of dollars and it was efficient.

The next process was to packaging my product. I knew I wanted elevated packaging because I thought of my product as an affordable, luxury product ($29.99 per pair). For this box, I went straight to the source: Alibaba.

If you’re not familiar, Alibaba is a site where you can access factories (mostly in China) and get almost anything made. It’s an inventor’s playground. I posted my box design specifications, and within 24 hours, I had selected a factory that could make my boxes for about $1.10 each.

When you look for a factory on Alibaba, make sure they are a “Gold Supplier” with “Trade Assurance”.

Alibaba validates and scores its factories though a badge/award system, so make sure you check these qualifications carefully. I have been lucky and had no issues so far.

how-i-run-a-12k-month-push-up-padding-inserts-e-commerce-with-a-full-time-job.

-  
Jocelyn Thompson, on starting EPIPHANY LA ($12,000/month) full story ➜

Example: Choosing The Right Style From The Manufacturer

Our first step was to find manufacturers of white canvas shoes on Alibaba. Over the course of six months, I ordered almost eight sample pairs of shoes. Ultimately, we found one pair of shoes that we loved and chose to order.

This manufacturer stated we had to order a minimum amount of 1,000 pairs.

We were able to break down our order into two different styles: One style is a high top and the other being a low top style.

Knowing that we could do both styles, we chose to do 500 pairs of low tops and 500 pairs of high tops.

The manufacturer said that we could also do five sizes per style, so the decision was to order the five most popular women sizes in low tops and the five most popular men sizes in high tops.

Fortunately, when we order shirts we get them from a website known as S&S Activewear, which has a warehouse near our company.

-  
Drew McNamara, on starting Creative Souls ($1,000/month) full story ➜

Purchasing Inventory For Your Shoe Brand

When first starting out, it's important to start small with your overhead to get a gauge for what people want.

Just remember - if you order a line of items that don't sell, it's nearly impossible to recoup the money lost.

Buying the right inventory takes research and planning in order to get it right.

  1. Identify your target audience: Identify the age, gender, annual income that you will be selling to. This is a defining factor in ordering the right inventory that will sell.
  2. Research your competition: Conduct market research and identify the different types of styles, price points, and materials being used. This will help you see what's trending and ways that you can improve/stay ahead of the competition.
  3. Create an inventory wishlist: Identify what you need for the launch of your business and create a budget that you will stay within. Remember, it's okay to start small.
  4. Find a supplier Make sure to first compare prices and analyze different options.
  5. Delivery timing: Schedule the inventory delivery to match with seasonality and trending buying seasons

Pro-tip: It's easy to become biased based on your own fashion preferences on what types of shoes/apparel to purchase. This is where a lot of fashion businesses go wrong. It's important to base purchase decisions on current buyer behavior, trends in the market, and specific to your niche.

Write a Business Plan

Writing a business plan from the start is critical for the success of your shoe brand.

Why?

Because this allows you to roadmap exactly what you do, what your overall structure will look like, and where you want to be in the future.

For many entrepreneurs, writing out the business plan helps validate their idea and decide whether or not they should move forward with starting the business.

You may want to consider expanding upon these sections in your business plan:

  • Executive Summary: Brief outline of your product, the market, and growth opportunities
  • Overviews and Objectives: Overview of your business, target customers, and what you need to run your business
  • Products and Services: Specifics on the products and services your business will provide
  • Market Opportunities: Analysis of customer demographics, buyer habits and if your product is in demand
  • Marketing: Outline of your marketing plan and how you plan to differentiate yourself from other customers
  • Competitive analysis: Analysis of your competition and the strengths and weaknesses therein
  • Operations: Hierarchal structure of the company and what it will take to run the business on the day-to-day
  • Leadership Team: Detailing roles and responsibilities of each manager based on their specific skill-set
  • Financial Analysis Understanding of all expenses, operating budgets, and projections for the future.

Learn more about how to write a business plan here

When it comes to setting up your business, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some financial and legal decisions.

The first thing you'll want to decide on is whether you want to be an LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp.

These three options are found to be the most common when starting a small business, and all serve to protect your personal assets and also provide you with certain tax benefits.

  • LLC: All income and expenses from the business are reported on the LLC personal income tax return.
  • S corp: Owners pay themselves salaries + receive dividends from profits.
  • C Corp: C Corps are separately taxable entities that file a corporate tax return (Form 1120). No income tax is paid at the corporate level and any tax due is paid at the owners individual expense.

Depending on where you're conducting business, you'll also want to consider securing the proper permits, licenses and liability insurance.

Learn more about securing the right permits and licenses ➜

Determine Which Business Bank Account You Need

There are hundreds of banks out there, and it can be overwhelming to find one that's right for your business.

Here are some factors you may want to consider:

  • Location - Is your bank close enough that you can easily make deposits or get cash?
  • Low Fees - Make sure to understand any and all fees associated with setting up and maintaining your bank account. Ask for a list - banks usually try to keep this hidden and in the fine print.
  • Online Banking Services - Make sure you can easily navigate through your online portal and you have easy access to everything you need.
  • Line of Credit - What do your options look like (even if you don't need this now, you may need this down the road).
  • Every bank has something that differentiates them from the rest, so make sure whatever that is applied to your needs and values.

Check out this list of the 13 Best Banks for Small Business in 2020 and what makes them so unique.

How To Price Your Shoes

One of the most challenging and critical pieces to starting your shoe brand is determining how much to charge for your shoes

When businesses under-price their product, this can be extremely detrimental to their bottom line and reputation.

Often times, businesses under-price their products to drive demand and volume, but that last thing you want is for customers to view your product/service as "cheap." Additionally, this can have a big impact on the type of customer you attract, which can be difficult to recover from.

On the other hand, when businesses over-price, this tends to be just as damaging to the business.

When customers buy, it's likely that they will explore the internet and look at other competitors to ensure they're getting the best value + deal. This is why it's so important that you research your competition and understand where you land in the marketplace.

Here are some factors to consider when pricing your product:

Understand your customer

It's important that out of the gates, you identify the type of customer you want to attract and how much they're willing to pay for your service. One great way to do this is by surveying your customers. Here are some important items you'll want to takeaway:

  • Customer demographic: Age, gender, location, etc.
  • Buying habits of your customer: What they buy + when they buy
  • Level of price sensitivity with your customer

All of these segments will help you identify the type of customer you're attracting and how to price your product accordingly.

Understand your costs

When pricing your shoes, it's critical that you first identify all of your costs and consequently mark up your shoes so you can factor in a profit.

The actual cost of your shoes may include things like:

  • The actual cost to make the product (ie. raw materials, supplies, manufacturer).
  • Shipping + overhead fees
  • Rent
  • Operating costs to run your business

You may want to consider creating a spreadsheet with every single expense involved in operating/owning your business. This will give you an idea as to what you need to generate in order to at the very least, break-even and will help you price your products to factor in a profit.

Create revenue goals

When determining the price of your shoes, you'll want to create goals for revenue + how much profit you want your shoe brand to make.

This process is simpler than you may think:

  1. Think about your breakeven cost (by completing the above step).
  2. Create a revenue goal based off of your break-even cost
  3. Evaluate the # of items you plan to sell in a given period (make sure this is a realistic number)
  4. Divide your revenue goal by the number of items you plan to sell

This figure will help determine your estimated price per product in order to meet your revenue goals.

Evaluate your competition

The last piece in determining how to price your shoes is by simply looking at your competition.

The best way to do this is by finding like-minded businesses that offer product(s) with similar perceived value. Then, you can compare prices of the different businesses and determine where your shoes fits best in the marketplace.

All of these factors play an equal part in pricing your shoes, so it's important you evaluate each one individually to come up with an accurate price that will help optimize your business from the start.

Lauren Costanza, founder of Bluminary provides us with a detailed spreadsheet of all of her costs associated with running her business:

I knew this would be a self-funded adventure, and I set aside $3,000. During the first three months, I had a detailed spreadsheet where I tracked where the money was going and what was going toward products versus researching and developing new products.

The spreadsheets involved columns and rows of numbers to craft a budget and gain an understanding of how much would need to be invested at each stage of the process - from gathering supplies to building a website, and shipping materials.

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Lauren Costanza, on starting Bluminary ($500/month) full story ➜

🚀 How To Launch Your Shoe Brand

Make Sure You Get The Package Design Right

The way you package your shoe brand is often the first impression your customer has - so it's important to get it right.

You may want to ask yourself these questions:

If my product is on a shelf next to hundreds of other similar products:

  • Will my shoe brand stand out?
  • Will the branding/packaging create a connection with my customer, and hence, lead them to buy?

There are hundreds of tools you can use to help with packaging and design:

  • Canva - Allows non-designers to create beautiful Instagram/Pinterest posts, flyers, business cards, etc.
  • Stickermule - High quality custom stickers you can include on or in your packaging.
  • Noissue - Custom tissue paper and compostable mailers
  • Rollo Label Printer - A great tool to print all shipping labels at home

Build A Website

Building a website is imperative when launching your business, and with the right tools in place, this can be a simple task to check off the list (without having to hire someone).

  1. Pick a domain name that's easy to remember and easy to type
  2. Choose a Web Hosting Plan (ie. Shopify, Squarespace)
  3. Make sure you choose the right theme and design
  4. Implement the proper page structure (ie. about page, contact page, pricing etc)

To learn more about how to build a stellar website with little stress, we give you all the details on this step-by-step guide.

There are a ton of different websites platforms out there, and it's important to choose the right one that will set you up for success

Shopify is most commonly used for eCommerce boutique businesses and Squarespace is most commonly used for physical storefronts.

Here's everything you need to know about these two platforms:

Web Design

Once you have chosen the domain, web hosting, and platform, it's time to get started with the design phase.

Themes are a great way to produce the fundamental style and identity of your website - this includes everything from your font design to your blog post styles.

One of the best ways to get started is to simply explore the various themes (free or paid depending on what you're looking for) and test them on your site.

If web-design really isn't in the cards for you, you may want to consider outsourcing a web designer to help bring your vision and brand to life.

Traditional Launch Strategies (that work)

There are various different ways you can launch your shoe brand successfully.

Here are a few different strategies to get customers excited about your shoe brand:

  • Set up a Facebook page for your business. This is a great way to establish an online presence
  • Host an event in a fun location with drinks & food. This is a great way to get exposure in the local community.
  • Get Press! Pitch your story to the media and you may just land in an amazing publication
  • Live sales to get customers excited
  • Send a hand-written letter in the mail with a discount on your services to the local community/neighborhoods.

📈 How To Grow Your Shoe Brand

Social Media Advertising

Social Media Advertising is one of the leading ways to get the word out when it comes to shoe brand.

There are various different Social Media platforms available to you. Some may be more critical for your marketing efforts than others, however, it's important to have an understanding of what's out there and available to you.

Let's talk about a few of the main platforms and what makes them unique:

  • Facebook Advertising - more than 2 billion monthly users. Facebook is the best for lead generation + capturing email addresses for e-commerce businesses.
  • Instagram Advertising - approximately 500 million monthly users and has a higher audience engagement rate than any other platform. Instagram ads are best for linking to a product page or landing page and reaches the 18-29 age group most effectively.
  • Twitter Advertising- Small businesses typically use twitter ads to drive brand awareness, but the platform is meant more for organic engagement (and is not as heavily used for paid advertising)
  • Pinterest Advertising - 175 million monthly users and most effectively reaches the female audience. Pinterest is great for promoting products without "promoted". The promoted pins have a way of blending right in.
  • LinkedIn Advertising - 227 million monthly users and is geared towards the B2B market and generates the highest quality leads. Great platform for recruiters, high-end products and services that will help businesses

It's important to first define your goal/objective so that you don't waste time and money into the wrong platform:

Here are some different questions to ask yourself as it relates to your goals:

  • Do I want to simply drive brand awareness?
  • Do I want to drive users to my website to gather information?
  • Do I want to increase sales and get my customer to take action?

From there, choose the platform that targets your audience best and start experimenting!

Learn more about social media advertising ➜ here.

Gia Paddock discusses how live sales on Facebook was KEY to her launch success:

Our official launch happened the day after my birthday, July 26, 2017.

I decided to get the word out by going “live” on Facebook. When you have a personal profile, Facebook will allow you to record yourself in real time, and they allow any of your friends to click on the video and watch if they want. I told everyone our background story and that we would have our first live sale that next night, which was a Thursday. Little did we know Thursdays would be “our day”!

Live sales were something that I wanted to do, and it was different than other online boutiques I had seen. Basically, I would go “live” on our boutique’s Facebook page with our new inventory and show each item, give a little description on it, how it fits, price, sizing, etc. It really feels like I am everyone’s own personal shopper, which is amazing!

Our first live sale was pretty successful. Most of our first customers were my friends or acquaintances from school. We decided to start right away and do a giveaway if they shared the live sale video. We gave away a $100 gift card raffle as an incentive to anyone that shared the video.

This would prove to be by far our best strategy to grow the boutique without spending a dime on traditional advertising.

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Gia Paddock, on starting Boutique Rye ($10,000/month) full story ➜

Grow Your Email List

The more engaged list of emails, the more engaged customers, which ultimately leads to more sales.

One of the best ways to start growing your list is by providing your customer with something free (or discounted) in return.

This could also be anything from:

  • Ebook
  • Fascinating case study
  • Video series
  • Free week of the product
  • Discount on the product

Learn more about how to grow your email list and improve email marketing ➜ here.

Add an exit-intent popup to your online store

A great way to double, or even triple, your email opt-in rate and to grow your list is to add an exit-intent popup to your site, and offering a discount or content upgrade for subscribers.

Here's an example of what that might look like:

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One thing that I spent years NOT doing, that I now kick myself about, is adding an "exit intent pop-up" to our site, which lets people enter a sweepstakes to win a Xero Shoes gift certificate.

That one idea has added over 100,000 subscribers to our email list, which is one of our most effective marketing channels.

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Steven Sashen, on starting Xero Shoes ($460,000/month) full story ➜

Improve Your Email Marketing

Different types of emails

Here are the most common types of email campaigns you can send to your customers and their benefits:

  • Welcome emails - the perfect way to provide information from the start with a clear CTA. Make sure to tell your customer everything they need to know about your product or service.
  • Newsletters - a great way to give customers updates or send out your latest content
  • Product launch emails - the quickest (and easiest) way to increase sales is by selling to current customers. Make sure they're the first on the list to know about your new product
  • Promotional emails - promote discounts, deals coupons etc. Try and make this feel exclusive and for a limited time only
  • Abandoned cart emails - give your customers a reason to complete their purchase!

Here's a great resource for finding curated email designs, for all types of email campaigns!

Authenticity

As a brand, you want to deliver an experience that authentic, honest and transparent. Don't make the mistake of giving your audience less credit than they deserve.

Be Authentic

If you go around chasing every trend and only focused on yourself and money, you’re going to lose very quickly.

There have been many times where we have been tempted to do this but stayed true.

Sure we sacrificed sales, but we kept our integrity, played the long game and people saw and appreciated that, and really began emotionally investing in the brand.

-  
Valentin Ozich, on starting I Love Ugly ($300,000/month) full story ➜

Host A Social Media Giveaway

People love free stuff and love competition. Giveaways and contests are a great way to create awareness for your brand, grow your email list, and eventually convert leads into customers.

If your goal is to gather email addresses, make sure the entry criteria is to "enter your email." You can do this by leading customers to your landing page where they can then enter their email to be in the giveaway.

One of the most important aspects of promoting a successful giveaway is having an amazing prize. The better the prize, the more engagement you'll get.

This doesn't necessarily mean choosing an iPad or an expensive/trendy watch, but instead a prize that is actually relevant to your brand/target audience.

🏃 How To Run A Shoe Brand

Word of Mouth

The most tried and true way to grow a shoe brand is through word of mouth - some entrepreneurs would say it's more important than all social media.

Why you should focus on word of mouth:

  • Consumers trust word of mouth above all other forms of marketing
  • 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising
  • 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe it is the most effective form of marketing

Learn more about word of mouth in our guide: 30 Ways Founders Grow Their Business ➜

We really only have 2 tools to attract and retain customers. The first is word of mouth. TANYA HEATH Paris has never spent a cent in press or in marketing so we rely on happy customers talking about us. They find us by walking past one of out boutiques or they have been following the brand after hearing about us via some kind of press.

Our best retention tool is customer service. Some of my best customers started off as customer services disasters. But by taking their concerns seriously, and by problem solving and by working with them we are able to reassure them and solve their problems. In fact if you look at the comments on our Facebook pages clients often talk about our customer services. This makes me very proud!

I am in the Paris boutique all the time and I’m always interacting with clients so I know what they like and what they think we could be doing better. This insight goes into each new collection that I design. I also know that I don’t know everything, so if I’m in doubt about something, I ask my clients.

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Tanya Heath, on starting Tanya Heath ($75,000/month) full story ➜

Build a Referral Program

Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get the word out about your business and acquire new customers. Especially when you are starting out, it’s important to build a solid referral program to encourage existing customers to help you find new ones.

A great way to do that is by offering a reward (ie. credit on your service or cash) to customers that refer you to their friends and family.

A fantastic referral program will help with clout, credibility, and establishing yourself in the space.

How To Retain Customers

Retaining customers is one of the most effective ways to grow your shoe brand.

Often times, it's easy to find yourself focusing on generating new customers, vs retaining your current ones.

Look at it this way - you are 60-70% more likely to sell a new product to an existing customer, than you are a new customer.

That's not to say that finding new customers and revenue streams is not important, however, the easiest (and most inexpensive) source of new revenue is right there in front of you.

Here are some ways you can retain customers for your shoe brand:

  • Responding to comments on social media
  • Send discounts (or freebies) to loyal customers
  • Provide valuable content, for free
  • Write hand written thank you notes
  • Provide awesome customer service and build relationships with customers

To find out more tips and tricks on retaining customers, check out this article ➜ here

Customer service is huge for us. Like I talked about, building a community has been one of the best bi-products in the shop.

We want everyone to feel loved, cared for, and appreciated.

If we have a customer that comes in quite a bit, we will begin to notice what they buy and reach out to them if something new comes in if we think they will like it. We also try to call people by name and greet them as if they were entering my home, not just the shop.

Another great way we retain customers is through a loyalty point system. When a customer gains enough points through their purchases, they are rewarded with a discount. It’s our way of saying “thank you” for having them be a great customer.

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Emilie Casseday, on starting Blush Boutique Co ($25,000/month) full story ➜

Diversify Your Product Line

Adding new products to your business is a great way to expand into new markets and grow your business.

It's important to note that adding new products and diversifying may not be in the cards for you right this moment, and that's okay. You can always consider it down the road.

Here are some reasons you may want to considering adding/diversifying your product

  • Meeting the needs of your customers
  • Establish yourself as a top provider in your industry and stay ahead of the game with competition
  • Resistance to downturns/trends fading
  • Create new revenue streams

Resources

We put together the best resources on the internet to help you start your shoe brand.

Tools

Books

Web Resources

Videos

Case Studies

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Starter Story,   Founder of Starter Story

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