It’s not every day you can say you’ve beaten “King Karl”, ie. Chanel head designer and icon Karl Lagerfeld at something, but Sydney e-tailer/retailer Shoes of Prey has done just that. And Shoes of Prey’s smart, elegant and ever-stylish global face of the brand, chief creative officer Jodie Fox, 32, (pictured), couldn’t be more chuffed.
Shoes of Prey is a global, multi-channel retail brand which enables women to design their own unique, perfect pair of flats, heels, wedges, sandals, boots and more online at shoesofprey.com. The process is easy and fun – check out my custom-designed pair I’ve dubbed The Nicole (pictured). Using 3D technology, customers choose the shape, colour and height of their shoes. Designs are handmade within five weeks and delivered worldwide.
However, it was the brand’s first foray into traditional bricks-and-mortar retail, the Shoes of Prey’s David Jones-based concept store in Elizabeth Street, Sydney which outclassed King Karl’s concept store in Paris to win Store Design of the Year at the recent World Retail Awards in Paris.
“I feel pretty good about beating Karl Lagerfeld. I have a cat as well – he and I should hang out!” says Jodie, referring to the designer’s famous couture cat, Choupette Lagerfeld.
“I’m excited with how well we’ve come so far, but our vision is so much bigger than where we are now. I believe designing your own fashion will increasingly become the way that people purchase in the future.
“Fashion designers are important for inspiration – I don’t think they’re at all irrelevant – it’s a new shopping frontier for consumers.”
Shoes of Prey was founded in 2009 by Jodie and her two former Brisbane law university student colleagues, Michael Fox, 33, the brand’s chief executive officer and her now ex-husband, and chief technical officer Mike Knapp, 33. Both men are ex-Google executives.
“I always liked shoes a lot, but I never really loved them because I couldn’t get what I wanted – the heel height, embellishment or colour was always not quite right,” Jodie says.
So, when Jodie began commissioning shoe designs and online retail took off, the trio set to work, and Shoes of Prey was born. “Online shoe designing is like a game for big girls,” Jodie says. “I have more than 100 shoes, not 1000 – I don’t have enough room at my house!
“Shoes are so covetable. When I put on shoes, it affects my physical presence.
“It’s like a sunny thought – I have a real emotional connection to my shoes. It’s extraordinary.”
And consumers are also enamoured with Shoes of Prey, taking its success to dizzy heights. “The company has grown by 200 per cent in the past two months,” Jodie says, “and the concept store has been such a positive experience – sales are double the amount we forecast.”
In addition, five million unique viewers have visited shoesofprey.com in the past year; Shoes of Prey now has four offices globally and 60 staff, and the business broke even at two months and hit multi-million dollar revenue in under two years. Jodie spends four months of the year travelling, but says her life is far from all glamour.
“Running your own business is a tough journey, I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it’s very personal. I’m very emotional at times – it’s been a really big learning experience,” she says. “I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression in my life and I’ve learned to deal with it; I’ve learnt to compartmentalise.
“My new partner has his own business too, so he really understands.”
And Jodie’s fave pair of shoes? “It changes daily, but my ‘go to’ pair are our Carla Zampatti Australia Fashion Week collaboration [see the website gallery] – a neutral shade with a 4.5 inch, thicker heel which are really flattering on the foot,” she says.
And if you’re still nervous about designing shoes online, you can always call on Shoes of Prey’s online shoe stylists or its online community, with thousands of active fans on its social media, for advice. I’m still enjoying perfecting mine!