We got to sit down with Susannah Davda, Founder of The Shoe Consultant about why she is so passionate about the shoe sector.
What do you do at The Shoe Consultant?
I help people to start successful shoe brands. I launched The Shoe Consultant in 2015, offering one-to-one consultancy. I then created my How to Start a Shoe Brand online course, and added The Shoe Community: a membership group for people starting shoe brands.
This year I released a new course How to Photograph Shoes to Sell which is for anyone who wants to take better photos of shoes or sneakers. Whether they are listing them on eBay or other marketplaces, they’re an influencer photographing shoes for social media, or they are starting a shoe brand. Shoes are difficult to photograph well, and good photography can make your footwear stand out from your competitors’.
I am passionate about making the shoe business more accessible to people who want to make a change in the industry.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
I had worked in the shoe industry since the late 90s, and after many years of working for brands and retailers, I wanted to start my own business. When I resigned my role as Global Product Manager for a large shoe brand, I created a website listing several services I knew I could do well.
The only service with strong uptake was consultancy for start-up shoe brands. I had no idea up until that point how many people around the world dream of starting a shoe brand but don’t know where to start. The entrepreneurs I work with inspire me every day with their drive, passion and determination.
Who do you admire?
I admire anyone who has started a truly unique business. It takes such bravery! I include my clients and members of The Shoe Community in this group, as well as anyone creating a product or service that is outside the norm. Weird is good when it comes to business, as long as you can gather an audience of fellow weirdos eager to purchase.
Looking back is there anything you would have done differently?
I would have skipped the stage where I charged clients an hourly rate for my consultancy services. I recognise now that I was drastically undercharging for my experience and expertise at that point.
In hindsight I could say that I should have initially focused on just helping startups rather than offering an array of other services for different customer groups. Only when I niched down was I able to focus my marketing efforts on one customer group and scale The Shoe Consultant.
What defines your way of doing business?
I have enjoyed building my company culture to reflect my personal values and ethics. These are: honesty, humanity and practicality. I help my clients create shoe brands which reflect their own values, and develop a meaningful human connection with their potential customers.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
You need to have a concept and vision to start a business, but you also need to be open to the market telling you what it wants. I don’t necessarily mean collecting customer feedback – although that is also beneficial – but watching the sales and being prepared to discontinue unpopular products or services even if they’re your personal favourites.