Business Leader Magazine recently sat down with William Lane, the Managing Director of Shoegarden – a growing family-run business and home to the world-renowned haflinger shoes.
Lane talks about his company’s growth and the current state of the fashion industry.
Can you give our readers an overview of Shoegarden?
Shoegarden is an online retailer providing high quality European shoes, slippers and clogs that are made from natural materials that are good for the feet.
What was the inspiration behind the brand?
With the emphasise on natural materials and comfort, we wanted to conjure up a memorable name that would reflect these properties without being too obvious. I think Shoegarden reflects this. We do have a lot of people who visit us searching for “garden shoes”, luckily many of our designs are as comfortable in the garden as they are in the home.
How have you grown your company?
The shoe business is notoriously difficult to crack due to fashions, colours and sizes, it’s not for the faint hearted. We believe in evolution not revolution, making small improvements rather than huge changes which then add up to steady growth. Not a recipe for overnight success but we are happy with this approach.
Does your company fill a gap in the fashion industry or do you have competition?
We have competition but we like to think we sell the Rolls Royce of slippers but at real world prices. You can get cheaper slippers and shoes but why treat your feet so poorly when for a bit more you can treat them to something special.
Can you give us some stats on your growth – Financial and employee numbers, etc?
We have been aiming for 8% growth per year. We have 5 to 10 employees but this is seasonal as we are much busier in winter.
How would you describe your entrepreneurial story?
We started off making shoes, then moved into bricks and mortar retail and now online. With each new way of doing things we have had to learn and adapt but our experience. This has led to being able to see many angles of the business. We like to embrace technology but maintain some old fashioned values- a balanced approach.
What’s next? How do you keep expanding?
We have some exciting links planned working with offices who have spotted that this type of footwear can increase productivity.
How have fashion shows helped your business?
Slippers and clogs aren’t the most requested styles for fashion shows unfortunately so they haven’t really helped at all.