“Hi!” I’m Lizze Leary, Director of KindredSole.com – the online designer shoes shop. I was 21 years old when I launched the brand but it was from quite a young age that I knew I wanted to have my own business.
When I was 14 years old I started to take an interest in fashion. I was too young to get a part time job to fund my clothes and shoes obsession so I started washing cars for people in my village. I soon realised they would also pay me for walking their dogs and baking cakes. At 16 years old I was offered a part time job at a hair dressers. After my first nine hour day I was handed an envelope with £15 in. I could have made £15 in less than two hours in my own village. This was my first lesson! Fast forward to 2008 >>> second year of University! The career talks began and the recession hit. I didn’t want to work long hours buying for someone else, I wanted try create something for myself. The Kindred Sole brand was created.
After graduating I won a place on the Enterprise Inc. programme which was managed by the Enterprise Team at DMU. This was a fundamental part of my first year in business with Kindred Sole. I learned essential skills from finance, marketing to branding. Being in an environment with other young people starting their own businesses was a great experience. We all knew that we were in the same boat and could bounce ideas off each other.
In the 5 years there have been many challenges and many rewards – that’s business! It is a rollercoaster and is not for everyone. The biggest challenge I faced was finance. I was 21 years old, I had limited funds that I could invest into a business and the ‘R’ word kept popping up. Many people thought I was mad going into retail but all the research showed the upward trend of online shopping. I put together a business plan to get a business bank loan. In September 2009 the application was successful and Kindred Sole could purchase its first winter collection.
The most rewarding part is knowing I am creating something for myself and that I can work the hours I want. Funnily enough I love what I do and with the importance of social media these hours seem to be 24/7, but I love it! The opportunities and events I have had, have been amazing from winning ‘Highly Commended Footwear Brand of the Year’ voted for by the public, ‘Young Business Executive of the Year 2013’ and attending an event at the Houses of Parliament to talk to MPs about the importance of graduate businesses on the economy.
The next stage for Kindred Sole is an App. Industry research and our own website analytics shows that a large portion of purchases comes from mobile or tablet devices. We are in the development stages of the App and look forward to sharing it with everyone in the near future!
The biggest lesson I have learnt is I need to live in the moment more. The buying process means I am buying Summer 2015 collections at the moment and projecting targets. This can mean that I don’t always celebrate milestones or achievements as I am always chasing the next product or target.
If you are reading this and contemplating starting your own business there are so many tips I could share with you. I’ll stay focused with two top tips! Number 1: research! Prove to yourself that you have a viable business idea. Number 2: get a network of people around you who you can trust. The people that tell you the truth are the people you need. They will challenge you, motivate you and have your best interests at heart.
For further information about Kindred Sole, please head to their website.