How Shoes of Prey Co-Founder Jodie Fox Turns Challenges Into Opportunities

Each day in June, FN is highlighting female forces in the industry as part of our Women in Power series.

Here, Shoes of Prey co-founder Jodie Fox, reflects on her career and building her customized shoe brand.

What was the biggest breakthrough moment in your career?
“In so many ways, I hope it hasn’t happened yet. I hope there are many more to come. The biggest one to date was when we were the finalists for the World Retail Awards for Store Design of the Year (<1200 square meters) in 2013. We were so thrilled to make it through to the final round, especially when we saw that we were named alongside Karl Lagerfeld for his concept store in Paris, and Puma for their flagship store in Osaka. Being up against such iconic names in retail, we naturally thought the chances of us winning were slim, so we didn’t attend the ceremony in Paris. It was through the glow of my iPhone at 3 a.m. with Facebook notifications that we found out we’d won. We were ecstatic and so proud for our store to be recognized. It was definitely one of those moments where we really stopped and realized how far we had come. It was gobsmacking.”

Anything you would have done differently?
“One of the things we’ve always done is to make sure we’re able to look after our customers — it has always been important to us to make sure they get shoes on time, that they’re happy with their shoes and that we make it a one-of-a-kind experience. I would’ve shared more of my personal conviction and talk more about that in our brand. It’s a big challenge — there is so much on the operational side, but I think I would find more of a balance.”

Do you think women do enough to support other women in the workplace? Why or why not?
“I feel very fortunate in the environment we’re in at Shoes of Prey — it’s female-dominated and dynamic. I think something we can do, as women in the workplace, is champion each other more because males and females carry an inherent bias. Communicating more in meetings and supporting each other is something we can all do to help.”

What is the biggest challenge you faced in the last year and how did you overcome it?

“One of the tough decisions we had to make is winding down our offline retail presence and returning to our roots as a purely online retailer. We saw an evolution in the market and in our business strategy — customers had become more comfortable and confident with online shopping and the concept of customization over the years — so we decided to close the stores to focus on where we believe our biggest global growth opportunity is, in e-commerce.”

“We’re proud of the exploration we made into offline retail, and it’s something that we still believe in — there is simply nothing that can replace face-to-face contact and being able to physically interact with a product and brand, but we had to decide where to put our focus in the immediate future. It was a really good decision for the business, but a tough one to make. The way we overcame the challenges of it was to make sure we communicated openly — internally and externally — what we wanted to do as a business.”

Looking back, what advice would you give to your younger self?
“I would give myself two pieces of advice: Do everything before you’re ready — just go and try things you’re not always going to have the knowledge about. When we first started, no one else was doing what we were setting out to do, providing customizable shoes for women in an online retail space. There was very little for us to go by in terms of guidance. It’s natural to try to make sure that everything is perfect before going ahead with something but I’m not sure that there really is a point that you feel everything is totally ready. You learn so much more by just doing when faced with something that you feel is totally out of your depth.

“My second piece of advice would be to back myself more. The people you need to back yourself up with aren’t your adversaries, but the people you associate with. The natural association is to compromise quickly to get along well and get going, but I think I would tell myself to push harder in that natural inclination and push back more on things that I believed in and could’ve worked harder at. Just knowing that it’s okay to not be polite and sweet — good business comes from discussion.”

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