How To Start A Shoe Brand In 2024 [9 Step Guide]

Updated: January 9th, 2023


Thinking about starting a shoe brand, but not sure about everything you'll need to do?

Shoes are more than footwear. They affect your mood and can even change the way you walk, run and feel. Shoes are not just a fashion statement; they make a statement about the person wearing them. If you’re passionate about design, fashion trends and always on the lookout for the next trend, then starting a shoe business may be a highly profitable use for your skills and talents.

Besides, the shoe industry presents a huge business opportunity: In 2020, 20.5 billion pairs of footwear were produced around the world, resulting in a $366 billion industry.

We've put together this step-by-step guide to walk you through the process of going from sketches on a notepad to an actual business that makes and sells shoes.

Step 1: Know The Industry

It is essential that you do your research on your new potential business idea.

Research is important because it will help you answer some questions, like:

  • "What are the chances that this business will work?",
  • "How much money can I make with this business?", and
  • "Who is my competition and how can I beat them?"

But first, let's start with some statistics on the shoe industry and starting a shoe brand:

Statistics You Need To Know About Starting A Shoe Brand

Size Of Industry $468B
Average Monthly Revenue $1.36M
Average Initial Investment $27,911
Gross Margin 46%
Time To Build ~360 days

After understanding some of the statistics, here are some more resources to help you make the decision if a shoe brand is the right business for you:

More Resources For Your Research

Is a shoe brand for you? Pros and cons of a shoe brand
What skills do you need to start a shoe brand? The 2 Most Important Skills You Need
Understand the competition: 40 trending shoe brand
How much does it cost to start a shoe brand?

Lastly, you should research previous successful shoe brands, and learn from founders before you.

Want to see how others started a shoe brand? Check out these 3 shoe brand case studies from successful founders:

Shoe Brand Case Studies You Should Read

Xero Shoes: Growing A Shoe Brand to $5M+/year
How I Built A $300K/Year Online Flip Flop Shop
How I Started A $185K/Month Baby And Children Vegan Footwear Brand

Want more case studies? See the full list.

Step 2: Find The Right Niche & Demographic

What is a niche? A niche is a small and specific area of interest or customer base.

When starting your shoe brand, you want to target a specific group of customers that will be interested in your products. You don't want to make shoes for everybody, but rather a smaller (and underserved) subset of the market.

"Niching down" is powerful because it will allow you to focus on your target audience and create products that they love.

Examples Of Shoe Brands That Succeeded By Going Niche:

These super lightweight shoes and sandals brand grew to $18M/year
These vegan sneakers are a $300K/year business
This women's shoe brand with removable heels makes $120K/year

Want some more examples of niches? Explore this list of 2,500+ niches.

Step 3: Come Up With A Name For Your Shoe Brand

A good name for your shoe brand is important because it will help you to stand out from the crowd. It will also make it easier for people to find you on search engines and on social media.

Furthermore, the design, branding, and vibe of your business are key. It will set the tone of your company and give potential customers an idea of what you are about. Your logo, color scheme, and fonts are all part of the branding process.

Find Your Name, Slogan, Logo & More

Find a name for your shoe brand: 100+ Clever Shoe Brand Names
Find a slogan: 1,000+ Clever Shoe Slogans & Taglines
Find a domain: Search cheap domains
Find an Instagram handle: 1,000+ Unique Shoe Brand Instagram Name Ideas [{{ current_year }}]

Step 4: Create A Business Plan

A business plan is a written document that describes a company's goals, strategies, and reasons for success. It is an essential document for any business owner or entrepreneur to create.

A business plan is important because it helps you answer questions like: "what do I want to do?" and "what are my weaknesses and strengths?".

It doesn't have to be 30 pages long, but it is important to get something written down, so you organize your thoughts and your vision, as well as get feedback from friends and colleagues.

Business Plan Templates You Can Download & Fill Out

  1. Business Plan Template For A Startup
  2. Official U.S. Small Business Administration Business Plan Guide & Templates
  3. 500 downloadable sample business plans
  4. A simple one-page business plan template

Although you might be super excited to hit the ground running on your new business, there are some paperwork things you may need to do, such as creating a legal entity and setting up your taxes.

1. Choose Your Business Structure (Make Your Company Official)

If you are a U.S.-based company, you must decide what business structure is right for you.

The most common business structures are (1) sole proprietorship, (2) partnership, (3) limited liability company (LLC), and (4) corporation.

Read: Understand What's Best For Your Business: (LLC, S Corp, C Corp)

If all of this legal stuff sounds daunting, you can create An LLC in minutes with ZenBusiness.

2. Register For Taxes (Federal)

Getting an EIN number is a necessary step for small businesses in order to file taxes or accept payments from customers.

Register With The IRS & Get an EIN Number: EIN Number Application

3. Register For Taxes (State)

Tax obligations are different for every state, so you'll need to check with your state's website for more info.

Look Up Your State

Step 6: Bank, Bookkeeping, Insurance, Permits & Licenses

To operate your business, you'll likely need basic things like a bank account, and you may need some licenses and insurance (depending on your business):

1. Bank Account, Credit Card

Set Up A Business Bank Account: 8 Best Business Checking Accounts
Get A Business Credit Card: 12 Best Business Credit Cards of July 2021

2. Insurance, Permits & Licenses

Read: What insurance do I need for my business?
Get The Right Permits & Licenses: What License or Permit Do You Need to Have a Shoe Retail Store?

Step 7: Create & Design Your Product

You've set up your business. Now the real work begins. You need to design, manufacture, and/or source a product that you can sell to your customers.

Here are some tips to design and create your clothing:


By using the dropshipping technique, you can start your own online store without the need to buy or stock any inventory. When you make a sale, the product is sent straight from the manufacturer to the customer.

Useful Reads On Dropshipping

Read: This Dropshipping Business Makes $150K/Year [Case Study]
Find A Supplier: 100 Wholesale Shoe Suppliers

Design & Prototyping

Prototypes are a necessary step in the process of designing a product. They help you get feedback and validate your idea before investing in it.

Prototype & Design Your Product: Prototyping Tips From Founders
Guide To Packaging Design

Step 8: Launch Your Shoe Brand

If you build it, they might not come. That's why you should have a special "launch" of your company to boost sales.

Use your launch to show off all the great things about your brand and your product, and what it can do. And answer any questions potential customers might have about the product (which doubles as great feedback for your brand).

Here are some tips to launch:

How To Price Your Product At Launch: How to price your shoes?
Read: How to Launch Your Business Successfully
Read: How To Get Press Coverage On Your Business

Real-life success story #1: Collaborate with other brands

Read this case study to learn how Tom started a $300K/year vegan shoes brand and how he approached launch to have a successful start.

Although nowadays it may seem that everything has to be online, this story teaches us the importance of doing field work and attending events, small flea markets, and establishing collaborations with other emerging brands.

Working with your back to the customer is never a good idea. All these activities will help us to know much better what our potential customers are looking for and will bring us closer to developing a better product.

Collaboration is key. We worked together a lot with like-minded emerging brands, local artists, and events.

One of the first sales we made was actually at a local weekend market. Dealing with mostly online transactions, the experience to meet our very own customers in person is actually amazing. The biggest lesson is probably to reach out, work with people, and support each other. For example, we were able to have our pop-up space by sharing the cost with fellow independent brands. We’re stronger together.


Tom Guo, on starting Atlantis Shoes ($25,000/month) full story ➜

Real-life success story #2: Do prizes and giveaways

Read this case study to learn what strategies this flip flop brand used to grow to $480K/year.

Giveaways are a great tool to raise awareness of our brand. As Brad says, people love free stuff.

In exchange for the cost of a few pairs of our product, we can make a big impact, raise awareness of our brand and grow our social media follower base (who will start seeing our posts on a regular basis).

One of the growth tactics that we found works well for us is promotional prizes and giveaways. We’re still a small brand, so one of the goals is to simply get on people's radar. People love free stuff and as long as they don’t have to work too hard to get it or have a chance to win it, they don’t mind exchanging their email address for it so you can market to them. There’s a big chance they like the look of your products and won't mind you emailing them and will consider purchasing your product in the future. Prizes and giveaway packs can be small or large and contain different products to target different audiences.


Brad Munro, on starting Boomerangz Footwear ($40,000/month) full story ➜

Step 9: Find Customers & Grow Your Business

Finally, the hard work begins! Once you've created your company, launched your product, and got it off the ground, you'll likely start thinking a lot about how you can grow it.

Here are a few resources on how to grow your shoe brand.

Read: 74 Ways To Market Your Shoe Brand
Read: Grow Your Business With SEO
Read: Email Marketing & Growing Your List
Read: Facebook & Social Media Advertising
Read: 200+ more ways to grow your business

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need training to start a shoe brand?

That's a great question to ask yourself. Do you have the knowledge and skills to design shoes?

If you do, great! If not, it may be worth looking into attending a fashion school or learning shoe design skills online.

However, formal training is not required to start your shoe line! But it may be something to think about.

Are selling shoes profitable?

Shoes are one of the most profitable industries in the world. Nike's net profit margin as of May 31, 2022, is 12.94%.

What tools do I need to start a shoe brand?

There are loads of free (and some paid) tools that will really help take your shoe brand to the next level.

If you plan to have an online storefront, then we recommend that you use Shopify. It's the most popular tool for online shoe brands.

It's also important that you set up your social media accounts. Shoe brands see the most success on platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

You will want to build up an email list of your customers so you can market to them, and we recommend using Klaviyo.

Lastly, you will need productivity tools such as documents for writing, spreadsheets to manage inventory, etc. We recommend using Google's suite of tools.

If you want to see more tools that founders are using, check out our tools database.

What books should I read if I want to start a shoe business?

If you're looking to learn more about the shoe industry, these are some great books to get your hands on:

Is it important to have a website for my shoe brand?

A website is a business’s digital storefront. It is the place where customers can find information about your company, get in touch with you, and buy your products.

A well-designed site will help you generate more sales by presenting your brand in the best possible light. Here are a few resources on how to build an amazing website:


That's it! Thank you for reading. We wish you the best of luck with your new business!

Want to read more case studies on successful shoe brands? Check out all of our case studies on Starter Story.

meet the author
Pat Walls

I'm Pat Walls and I created Starter Story - a website dedicated to helping people start businesses. We interview entrepreneurs from around the world about how they started and grew their businesses.