Hello again and welcome to our regular insight from the world of inspirational women. This week I am delighted to have Katie Owen, founder of Sargasso & Grey Luxury Shoes with me.
Katie started Sargasso & Grey when she couldn’t find herself a pair of elegant shoes that catered for a wider foot (as her feet grew wider with childbirth). Launching her business in 2014 and growing ever since, Katie shares some of her lessons and advice so far. Enjoy some luxurious monday motivation!
Hello Katie, it’s lovely to have you here, how are you today?
Very well thank you. Waiting patiently for our new SS2017 styles to come in!
What made you go into business for yourself? Do you remember the deciding moment?
To be honest, it wasn’t something I always wanted to do but I spotted a gap in the market for high end, stylish wide fit shoes. I have wide feet (which got wider after I had children) and could never find attractive shoes in a wider fit. They all seemed so frumpy! A friend who ran a shoe business suggested I make my own wide fit shoes and offered to put me in touch with a British shoe factory. Things went from there and Sargasso & Grey launched in Spring 2014.
Now that’s what friends are for! On that note, how important is it to have a support group? Who are those people to you?
It is absolutely crucial, especially if you don’t have a business partner to share the load and bounce ideas off. My husband, although he has no interest in shoes, is hugely supportive by taking on, among other things, a larger share of the childcare when I need some time to do “shoe stuff”. I also have some amazing female friends who are business owners and entrepreneurs. We swap ideas, discuss issues and share our networks. They also wear my shoes and are especially fond of the Sarah and Serena shoe boots!
Brilliant, I agree how important it is to get comfortable developing your business with both a core and wider network. And looking at your shoes I imagine that you’re friends are probably quite happy with what you’re doing! You mention the Sarah and Serena models; has any pair become your bestseller?
Yes, The Ava. I think it is a really elegant shoe. It is comfortably wide at the front but the pretty lace up detail means that women who have slim heels (which is often the case with wide footed women) can also wear them without their feet slipping out of the shoe. We have also had feedback from women who suffer from bunions that they find this shoe really comfy.
They’re stunning! What inspires your designs?
I tend to go for classic styles which won’t go in and out of fashion, and then perhaps play with colour, or add detail such as a bow. I want our customers to buy our shoes and feel confident that they will be able to wear them for a long time to come rather than following trends. That said, the Kitten heel is being hailed as the shoe of 2017 and that is one of our staple styles!
Fantastic! Have you got any new designs/colourways to look forward to this year?
Due to the popularity of the Ava shoe we are introducing it in navy and maroon for SS2017. We are also bringing some pretty pastel colours in for the summer, which are perfect for weddings.
I love a summer wedding and that just got me all excited! Where can we get a pair of your shoes from?
Currently we are just online. Although we occasionally get asked where customers can try them on, most customers are very happy to order online and try them at home, safe in the knowledge they can easily return them if they are not suitable.
That’s a great idea as more and more people are getting used to trying things on at home.
I can see how good everything is going at the moment for you and Sargasso & Grey but has it always been like this? – What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in business and how have you learnt from it?
Before I launched I was given advice to start building a following on social media and to write a blog. I was scared that shouting about my business idea before I had anything to sell might mean that someone else would come in a do the same thing. I completely underestimated a) how long it takes to build a following and a client base and b) how important social media and blogging is to improve Google rankings. If I had heeded the advice I would have given myself a much better chance of more sales earlier on and improved Google rankings.
So true, I’ve also experienced how much ‘predictive guesswork’ can actually inhibit business growth. And also how irrelevant the phrase ‘Imitation is the highest form of flattery’ can be when your business is so young! Leading on from that, do you have anything to say to would-be entrepreneurs?
I’d say forget all the noise around you and just focus on what you are doing. If you believe in it, just keep on and do it. It is easy to get distracted by competitors and other people. You can’t do anything about them, you can only influence what you are doing. Don’t give up.
Excellent advice, thank you so much for joining us today Katie, it’s been great fun to learn about your story and I hope our readers have enjoyed finding out all about you and your shoes. You can join us this Thursday when we dive into Katie’s handbag (with her permission!) and discover the personal essentials that she takes with her. If you haven’t already, simply click the ‘Follow’ button to receive Katie’s article along with others from the world of inspirational women.
Thanks again Katie, and as a last bit of fun, if there’s anything in the world that you could change right now, what would it be?
…..More women buying my shoes!
Have an inspirational week!