Tell us a bit about your business?
Glamazon Shoes is a niche market business. We provide beautiful women’s shoes for bigger feet with sizes starting from 10 and going up to at least size 13, and some up to size 15. Glamazon Shoes has a shop in Melbourne and an online store as well, supplying gorgeous shoes to women (and cross-dressing men!) all over Australia, and even some overseas.
Why did you start up your business?
I’d had the idea for a ‘big shoe shop’ for decades but never had the courage or confidence to act on it so it remained just that, an idea. After uni, I did the corporate thing for almost 13 years followed by babies and then working the other end of the spectrum, as a small business consultant. But the idea for Glamazon (even though it wasn’t called that yet!) was always there. Finally, I mustered the courage to go out and actually get it off the ground, around 3 years ago.
I’m 5’11” and have size 11 feet and buying shoes has been an ordeal ever since I can remember. Years ago, you were lucky to find size 10 shoes in shops, never mind size 11, and if you did, they were almost always ‘sensible’ or just plain frumpy. So I lived in men’s runners and Doc Martens. I refused to settle for granny shoes!
What are the major hurdles you experienced when starting up your business?
The biggest one would have to be a lack of knowledge about the footwear industry. I had plenty of business experience but not in this area, so that was quite a steep learning curve.
Also, doing the venture on my own has meant that I have to be a jill-of-all-trades – web manager, salesperson, writer, visual merchandiser, marketer – everything! There’s no-one to delegate to and that can be quite difficult at times.
What tips can you give other SavvySME members that are thinking or in the process of starting up their business?
Put together a solid business and marketing plan and do lots of market research. Clearly define your market and if possible, quantify it. Figure out your USP – unique selling proposition – as this is going to be the reason (hopefully) that people will want your product or service. How are you different from the others out there? Price shouldn’t be the differentiator.
Also, be wary of other businesses who will all try and sell you their wares/services. Get second opinions and quotes from more than one supplier and don’t rush into any expenditure based decision.
What made you decide to take the jump and focus on your business?
Age and the confidence that comes with age. Could have been a mid-life crisis but after carrying the idea for decades, I knew I would regret not giving it a go.
How did you family and friends react?
They were extremely supportive and excited for me, especially my 3 young daughters. Maybe it’s a shoe thing!
How has your life changed?
When I was in the corporate sector, I was earning a very good salary but felt empty and dissatisfied with the work I was doing. It was a drudge. Now I have the complete opposite. As a new business, my wages are, let’s just say, nothing to write home about, and that’s after not paying myself for quite a long while, my hours are just as long but I love what I do. I get an extraordinary amount of satisfaction from most of the wonderful customers I meet and it never fails to thrill me when I see how ecstatic they are at being able to find beautiful shoes in their size. Especially for those whose feet measure size 14 or 15. It’s incredibly satisfying, especially when they return with each new season. It’s like seeing old friends.
What success have you experienced since starting your business?
I’ve had a couple of PR wins of my own undertaking and got featured in the Herald-Sun as well as The Age (Melbourne newspapers) which got syndicated nationally. That was a wonderful boost for general branding.
What is the vision for your business going forward?
I would love for Glamazon Shoes to go national. I think there’s definitely scope for other stores interstate, as well as growing the internet side of the business.
What tips can you give other SavvySME about motivating yourself to push through the challenges that rise up while building your startup?
Network with other small business groups and especially those with women. Female business owners tend to face challenges that are unique to our gender and it can really help to speak to other women who may have faced what you do.