When did your love for shoes begin?
I got the shoe bug when I started working in shoe shops as a teenager. First Stead & Simpson, then Jones Bootmaker. I was already obsessed with fashion, but when I realised that people design shoes for a living, I became hooked on footwear.
Did you intend to have a career in shoes?
Yes. From the day I realised that I could study footwear design at university, having a career in shoes was my goal.
Where did you study and how did you become involved with footwear?
I studied for my BA (Hons) in Footwear Design at De Montfort University. Having the opportunity to gain work experience with the buying team at Jones Bootmaker whilst studying gave me valuable insight into the industry. When I graduated, Jones created a role for me which suited their business needs. I became Designer and Trainee Buyer, mostly working on the women’s category.
Tell us about your previous career path/work history?
I knew even before I graduated that I wanted to work on the business side of product creation, rather than being a creative designer. My “design” tasks at Jones involved amending existing styles, and transposing details from one shoe to another: not pure design work. Research, range planning, sourcing and pricing were the elements that interested me more.
After a few years, I found a new role with the product management team at Dr. Martens. I stayed with the company for 8 years, becoming Global Women’s Product Manager.
I had wanted to set up my own company for some time, and in 2015 I launched The Shoe Consultant Ltd. Since then, I’ve loved helping people start or grow their shoe brands and retail businesses.
Which brands do you work with now?
I mostly help independent UK-based brands and retailers to evolve and grow. I also support start-up shoe companies in the UK and internationally. One of the start-up clients I’m most proud of is Sante + Wade, who provide exclusive shoes to women with larger or wider feet.
Which skills do you have to offer your brand clients?
The established shoe retailers and brands I help usually have strong values and are just feeling a bit stuck. The way that customers make buying decisions is changing rapidly, and sales can drop or plateau without a change in strategy. All of the consultancy services I offer are bespoke to the client. I work closely with the brand or retailer to retain the heart of their company, whilst making both new and existing customers excited to purchase from them again. We will normally work on the range, online and in-store sales strategy, marketing, social media, and opportunities for events.
Do you have any client testimonials that you would like to share with us?
I recently had the opportunity to support Norwich-based brand and retailer Milly J Shoes with their growth strategy, and their founder Emily had this to say:
“Susannah’s approach was not only focused, but intuitive too. Gauging my business needs and the way I operate and working closely to find ways to go forward in my own way.”
Where do you operate from?
I’m based in Greater London, and help clients all over the world.
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
Great question! I own less than 30 pairs at the moment. I have regular clear-outs, and only keep pairs which are comfortable, and make me happy when I wear them.
Which is your favourite Ladies footwear Brand?
I fall in love with shoes more than I fall for brands. At the moment, I’m obsessed with a pair of block-heeled leather ankle boots from French brand Sandro.
Any plans for the future?
I’m launching an e-course all about How to Launch a Shoe Brand in the next couple of months.
I also have plans to open a pop-up shoe shop in Bromley, Kent later this year.