With entries received from all over the UK, a visit from Hugo Taylor and a competitive voting period which saw over 5,000 votes cast by the public, The Hand Dyed Shoe Co. was crowned the winner of Klarna’s ‘Smoooth Stores’ initiative at last night’s star-studded awards.
‘Smoooth Stores’ – launched by Klarna to discover and develop top retail talent across the UK – has named Simon Bourne and his experiential shoe making business from Durham the overall winner. He’ll receive £10,000 alongside mentoring from senior Klarna executives , and free use of Klarna’s Pay later service for 12 months.
The Hand Dyed Shoe Co, which creates handmade footwear from scrap leather in the furniture industry, has always done things a bit differently. Founder Simon claims his mission is to change the way the world buys shoes, offering a unique experience and service through all the touch points of the business. His approach has grown alongside the business, and started with free shoe-shining lessons, fresh coffee, and local gin for G&Ts.
With experiences offered in Durham, Dubai and London – the company has focused on putting customer experience, as well as workplace culture front and centre of its brand.
Special commendations have also been given to runners-up Britannical, the luxury children’s outerwear brand who came in second place, Charlotte Jade in third place, who offer hand drawn plant, floral and animal themed designs for wallpaper, upholstery and tiles. The pair have been awarded a £5,000 cash prize.
Simon Bourne, Founder of The Hand Dyed Shoe Co, said: “I come from quite from humble beginnings – a council estate in Scunthorpe actually, and I never dreamed I’d be here in front of everyone to accept such a generous award. This opportunity will really drive my business into the future – we’ll invest it wisely and I hope you’ll see much more from The Hand Dyed Shoe Co. in the future.”
Hugo Taylor, added: “From the moment I met Simon I knew he was incredibly passionate about his business, and rightly so, the quality of the products, and the unique experience he offers is something to be proud of. Working with him over the last few weeks has been a pleasure, and I know he’ll go on to do great things with the support of Klarna.”
Luke Griffiths, General Manager at Klarna UK, commented: “We are delighted to announce that Simon has won our Smoooth Stores competition. The unique experience which The Hand Dyed Shoe Co. creates is above and beyond what many retailers offer, and yet, it’s an intrinsic part of what makes Simon’s business so great. Every business we’ve had the chance to work with in this project has shown us that the UK’s retail scene is thriving and evolving. The Hand Dyed Shoe Co. will only continue to succeed, and I hope our prize and ongoing support will help accelerate that success for them – I can’t wait to follow his brand’s journey.”