The road to success is rarely a straight line, but some footwear entrepreneurs’ routes took especially winding turns. Ambitions that started in one place ended up somewhere very different.
What I thought I’d do in life:
I wanted to be a backup singer for Ray Charles — something more glamorous and artistic. At one point, I thought I’d love to be in advertising or be a writer, but I came from a very simple life with no connections or experience, so [I didn’t know] what was possible.
The moment that changed things:
I created FitFlop as a solution for myself, to help me with the lack of time I found myself facing and as a side effect of having done the research with a visionary biomechanist. I feel like every moment is a defining one, but certainly the success of our first shoe and the excitement it generated indicated that we had a game-changer.
My biggest obstacles in the shoe world:
I like to know how to do every part of my operation myself, and with FitFlop, that wasn’t possible when going from 0 to 60 in the space of a year. So letting go was a challenge, [as was] finding talented and motivated people who understood the demands of driving a company that is growing fast.
Advice for my younger self:
Compromising means moving backward. If you aren’t comfortable going in reverse, stick to your guns. It might be stressful at the moment, but it is the right thing to do in the long run.
Would I do anything different?
I am very happy with where I am due to all of those experiences. However, I wish I would have considered the environmental impact of the business and done more to mitigate the [the impact of] plastic bottles, box packaging and so on. We are much more mindful about that now, but in 1996, nobody was thinking about it.