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How to start a fashion footwear brand + reaching “overnight success” after 10 years, with Angela Scott

by Female Startup Club
April 13th 2021
00:53:11
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Today’s episode is a real goodie, I’m speaking to Angela Scott about her namesake brand From The Office of Angela Scott. 

Founded a decade ago for Women Who Mean Business,™ The Office of Ange... More

before we dive into the show. Today, we have some super exciting news as of this month. Female startup club is officially part of the hubspot podcast network. Something we love about the hubspot podcast network is all of the inspiring shows dedicated to helping professionals learn and grow, especially women in business. So if you love female startup club and want to check out other shows like us, we definitely recommend checking out being boss, the gold digger podcast and the shakeup Check out all these shows and more at hubspot dot com slash podcast network. This is Angela scott for female startup club. Uh huh. Hey, everyone doing here. Today's episode is a real goody. I'm speaking to Angela scott about her namesake brand from the office of Angela Scott founded a decade ago for women who mean business. The Office of Angela scott is more than just a luxury footwear brand. It represents the collective power of all women the perfect trifecta. The Office of Angela Scott is a woman owned woman run and woman funded brand decide to pave the way for professional women, one beautiful shoe at a time.

But Angela's story isn't one of overnight success. She's been grinding away and she shares so openly and honestly that it was only two years ago that she felt a true inflection point where everything started to just click this is an episode about that relentless pursuit and conviction about what you're doing in the world and why you're doing it. We speak about how she's funded the business and why it's important to ask for help and turn to the people around you and some of her key learnings from along the way. Like the power of truly understanding your customer and putting them at the forefront of everything you do. If you're loving these episodes, I have a huge favor to ask you right now. We're working on how female startup club can support you and what's next for us. And I would be so honored to have the chance to speak to the loyal listeners of the show and get to know you a little better. So if this sounds like something you'd be interested in, you can email me directly on hello at female startup club dot com to find a time for us to chat. I would love to meet you.

But let's get into this episode. This is Angela scott for female startup club. Yeah, customers want more from brands, delivering more means owning the customer experience, taking control over data acquisition analysis, creative and delivery. Clay vo calls this owned marketing and believe it's the best path to growth for more, visit Clay vo dot com slash F. S. C. That's clay vo dot com slash F. S. C. One last thing before we jump into this episode, I want to quickly shout about our course the ads. M. B. A. Although I'm totally biased, I'm told by so many of the hundreds of women who have taken it so far that it's amazing and they've been able to increase their revenue in their business using the methods taught the ads. N. B. A. Is A. D. I. Y. Course to help you master the technical skills needed to run profitable facebook and instagram ads by yourself.

We've partnered with leading performance marketing agency amplifier to create the best online program out there. And these guys know a serious thing or two about performance marketing. They've spent more than $100 million dollars in ads during their time. You'll learn everything from winning ad creatives to identifying your target KPI s, implementing retargeting funnels and deploying scaling strategies to increase your revenue to upwards of six and seven figures per year. It includes six modules with more than 30 video lessons and you can learn at your own pace. But what we're most proud of is that $30 from every sale is donated towards girls secondary education through the Malala Fund, a charity that champions every girl's right to 12 years of free, safe quality education and is working for a world where every girl can learn and lead to learn more. Head to female startup club.com. Female startup club precincts, Angela Hi hello and welcome to the female startup club podcast.

Thank you. It's so nice to be here. I really appreciate you having me. I'm so thrilled that you're here. I'm really excited to dig in and get to talking about how to start a footwear brand and what goes into it. I'd love to firstly kick off by getting you to introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your business. Sure, sure. My name is Angela scott. I am the Ceo and the designer for the office of Angela scott, we are a women's luxury footwear brand for women, human business, we produce Goodyear welted shoes which are stitched rather than glued for women and we do everything from Oxfords to boots to mid heels, sort of that, you know, pound the pavement kind of footwear. Yes, they look so comfy and so chic. I love it. Where does this story start? What got you thinking about footwear? You know, it's funny because it wasn't always footwear. Like I loved fashion. I'm from, I would say it started probably when I was in my teens, really strong, but like even when I was like 10, 11, I got really into fashion magazines, you know, I had all the subscriptions, I was really obsessed with like getting that monthly catalog or that magazine and I had, you know, walls full of collages and I really loved this sort of fantasy of it all.

Because back in the, you know, the time when I was a teenager, it was like Christy turlington and like the two twins and it was linda evangelista and like, it was like the age of supermodels, right? It was this sort of and it was really fantastical and I was really just, I guess invested in the beauty of sort of, I don't want to say make believe, but like I knew that what I was seeing in fashion magazines was sort of like the ultimate, it was sort of the dream. It wasn't reality because fashion magazines then we're a little less, I think now they're a little more real because you've got Pinterest, you've got instagram, you've got so many things that that visual presence is everywhere, whereas before it was just in magazines, there was no internet, there was no phone, there was none of that, you know, so like when you got your magazine, it was very dreamy, it was very much like living in an alter reality totally, and I always wanted to be in fashion and I just didn't realize that it would end up being footwear. I think the footwear part of it became because those were my iconic statement pieces, like as I got older, my shoes were my call out, like if you knew me at any stage of my life, you knew me for my shoes, you knew before my footwear.

Yeah, so it was by chance that it ended up being footwear in the beginning, I didn't know where it was going to land, but I definitely knew I wanted to get into fashion was that kind of like a moment that it clicked for you, you know, that light bulb went off, were you like, oh hey, is it what, where or like how did it, you know, evolve and come out? Yeah, it's super interesting because I definitely had a career and I dressed a certain way for that career as a woman. So like as a woman getting into like marketing and operations and product management, I was surrounded by a lot of men and so like, I think that classic attire for women was really the like lou batons and like the suit pant or the skirt, like it was a very specific uniform to like mean business, right? Like you, you wore that outfit to really kind of be taken seriously and I was working for a construction from the time that I ended up working for ty Warner, but I was running on these project management sites in these like crazy lobaton heels, like you're running behind these guys trying to keep up and I think that reality of understanding that like, my footwear meant something to who I was and it was getting in the way of who I could become, really was the switch, It was like, I can't get anything done like this.

It feels ridiculous. Like yes, I love a great pair of high heels, I want to feel sexy, I want to feel polished when I go to a dinner, but like, do I really want to be working at the pace that I am in the footwear that I am because it's impossible and then I'd be home and you, we all know it were like rubbing your feet trying to get them back to life because they're so numb that like, you're just like, oh my God, where are my toes? And I do that every night, And it was just like what is that? So I think it clicked then when my footwear had to do with how I could be a better professional, I don't know how to like explain that, but it was like, I couldn't be the best version of myself because I couldn't function, I couldn't walk faster, I couldn't like keep up totally. I so get that and I wasn't comfortable. Yeah, 100%. It's it's a real shocker to go to work all day and have to wear you know, platforms or really super high stilettos. And then, you know, I mean I just totally for always saying I've been there, every woman has been there and you and it's funny because like you do it, you sacrifice your comfort and you're like, no, no, no, I look good though, but like you're not comfortable, you're physically not comfortable, but you just work through it because it's like, but I physically look good, right?

Because there was an idea out there and I think it's an idea that wasn't created by women, but an idea out there that to look good, you had to be in high heels, Absolutely, and I don't think that's true totally. And also when you think about movies and tv shows the media also, it's telling you that this is what women wear, this is how you look professional, this is how you go about your work day and in reality you're like damn, this is hard, this is not what I want to be doing totally. So how did you go about validating the idea to actually start this business? Were you kind of telling people around you that you were going to start a business in Fort Worth? You know what? That's the funny thing is like I tell people all the time when you want to start something, just say it all the time, just say it to everybody, I'm gonna do this, I'm starting a business I'm starting footwork company, look at this, I think the name is going to be this, like I literally just kept saying the mantra, I was like no, I'm building a footwork company, I'm going to be in fashion, it's going to be this, the shoes are going to look like this, you know, I built up my storyboards, I built out business plan, I built out everything that I felt like I needed.

I mean I look back at my business plan now and it's like a mood board and it's also, I had really high expectations for how much money I was going to make in the start, like the goals were like first year 10 million, you know, hey, you gotta aim high, I love that though you do, but I think it was that, it was like, you know, I believe in the secret and it's very much about once you plant that out there and you continually say something, you'll end up believing it and you'll end up doing it, you know? And I think that was a big part of it. So yeah, I was like a little, you know, boombox being like, I'm starting a brand love that. What year are we talking by the way? I know you're so far into the journey, but to set the scene, It was 2000 like nine or 10. I want to say that I was working for Neiman Marcus and that is actually the catalyst. Like that is the true catalyst. So I went from working in construction and project management to a state management and then I went and worked for Neiman Marcus because my husband moved to Dallas. I was flying back and forth for several years because I still was doing a state management here in santa barbara and um, I just couldn't do the flight anymore.

I mean I did that for, I want to say almost a year and a half and it just, you know, every weekend I'd fly to Dallas and see my husband who at the time was my boyfriend, but like every weekend I'd be flying back to Dallas and it just got tiring and it also just felt like I wasn't moving forward with what I wanted to do in life. And I got a job at Neiman Marcus in public relations. And I started meeting and again, this is like where a podcast like yours is so critical because I met designers that I thought were huge and they would tell these stories of like, no, it's still just me and my business partner and we've got to employees and we're doing it out of this little space that a friend of ours is letting us, you know, rent for nothing, you know, and I couldn't believe that and I'm thinking God, but you're at Neiman Marcus and you've got choke shows all over the world and they're like, yeah, but we're still, we're still putting it together. So I think that really gave me the courage to jump was I was there for a year and it really built up but not credibility but a belief in the system.

Like if they could do it, I could do it. You know, and some of these people, some of these designers didn't come from fashion backgrounds and that also was encouraging because I don't come from a fashion background. So the idea of like, oh you can't be in that industry because you didn't intern for valentino and you didn't, you know, work for X, Y and Z. You don't have the technical experience. Yeah, that disappeared. And it kind of gave me this like blind confidence. Yeah, you're able to relate to these people and be like, oh, this is achievable. Yeah, I totally get that. If you were to tell someone the key steps to starting a footwear label now that you have the beauty of hindsight, what would those key steps be website like now? I mean, I would say get a website like the key steps are really, I think understanding your market because as is any goods, like there's always too much of everything. There are too many footwear brands, There are too many sweater brands, there's too many options for coffee. There's like, you know, there's always too much of everything, but if you have a passion and you stick with what, why you're doing it.

I think the why is really important? Why are you making shoes, Are you making shoes to make money that wrong answer? Are you making shoes to provide other people? Like a certain category of women with something great. If you want to sell them to everybody wrong answer, like you have to really kind of know your path and don't get swayed because I think that's where it goes wrong is when people are like, I want to start a brand and then other influence comes in and it's like, um, but you have to sell this kind of shoe to the wholesale and oh, but this retail brand wants this? And um, what about this one person that wrote a comment? So they really hated the shoes. And I thought you should do stilettos right. If you start listening to that noise and you don't stay on your path. Forget it. Like that's where it crashes and burns and, and that's where it can put you behind too is when you start listening to the noise because there's always going to be noise. There are always going to be people who are like, I hate your shoes. Yeah. You can't please everyone know and you just have to be like, that's cool. Well I love your style anyway. Like I like that you've got that other group going, right?

Love that. Love the other group for you. So if we're thinking back to circa 2010 when you're getting started, what kind of capital did you need at that time to start a footwear brand? I had no capital. I had about, I'd say about $60,000 that I had saved. And I figured I kinda, you know, maybe I watched too many movies, but I felt like if I build it, they would come, you know, field of dreams. Like I just thought like, okay, I have this amount of money. I know that I can at least get samples made and I know how to hustle. And so my thought at the time was make the samples and then just start going door to door and have the Coronas to get out there and just like not be afraid that when you walk in the door, somebody might look at you like You're a designer sure we don't want any right, might shut the door in your face. And I think that with that 60,000 I did a hell of a lot of research to find a factory and at first it was just a sample house. So I was only able to find a sample house and I found a sample house to make the samples and um I went and I spent the time and energy to actually, and I started in Italy and I spent all the time and energy went to Italy spent that's 60 grand basically on travel development materials.

Um working through my designs and sketches and listen like I can't draw, I'll admit it. Like the, the girls will always laugh there. Like I used to get remember like Neiman Marcus and stuff, they'd be like, we'd love to do a personal appearance with you, you know, can you come sketch and I'm like, you're like, nah, probably not like if you want stick figures like for sure, but like I can trace and then like I'm more conceptual, like I can build it out but I'm very hands on like I very much know exactly what I want in the pattern but I have to work with the pattern maker in order to do it just because I don't have that skill set. But I think that knowing at that time I knew what type of shoes I wanted to make, I knew how I wanted them made. And I think that those two key things led me to find the factory find, you know, the next step. And once I had those samples, like that's all the money that I had. So I had enough money to pay for all the samples and basically enough money to sort of pay for all the travel to all the luxury stores.

And I went in person like I flew to every single big city and hustled with my backpack and my roller with my suitcase, you know, I look like a ventriloquist because I had this big rollers with like shoes in them and I would go straight to their door and I would be like, hey, I suppose shoes, do you want to buy any, so like what kind of stools? Oh, like jeffries and Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf s and um, baby and company and in Japan e. C. Thanh and like all of them, every little boutique. Um, I actually started with little boutique so that the wholesale or the department stores were later, I didn't have the guts to go to the wholesale directly. But I knew since I worked at Neiman Marcus, like that door was adjacent because I knew who the buyers were. Um, but I actually went to them last. So I started with all of like the small, what I thought was like the heartbeat of fashion, the small boutiques Because they had, you know, and in 2012 or 11, I'd say like 11 is when I started hustling with the samples.

That was when people really like the owners were in the stores every day. You know, I think retail stores were smaller and there was more, it was like more mom and pop and it was more curated and it was less, there was less pressure and intimidation from online right now, boutiques have had to change because they've got internet to deal with, right? But then if you walked in the store, chances are you might meet the owner and at that time chances are the owner was the buyer, you know, so for me it was just like, I'm going to go out there and listen, I got the door slammed in my face so many times. We used to call it because I had a girlfriend of mine and we actually did this in europe together as we went and did stores in europe together. She's a shoe designer as well. And this is where I say, don't be afraid of competition, like share your input because my girlfriend was a shoe designer and she lives in France and we have some similar silhouettes. We both do mid heels, we both do Oxford but her and I were like, we're not competitive, let's go, let's support each other as women, if you get picked up.

Amazing! If I get picked up, amazing if we both awesome, right? And we traveled together? But that camaraderie made us feel like it was less scary. You're in it together essentially. You're not alone, we're in it together and we did it together. Yeah. Like I hate the idea of like competition in the way of secrets, right? Like I remember people telling me, don't show your designs because they'll steal it. And it's like, well if they're gonna steal it, that's the kind of karma that's going to follow them, right? I'm not going to live my life afraid of that. So yeah, I think again was circling back to like start up capital. I really knew exactly where I wanted the money to go. And I think that's really important that if you save money and you're going to invest in starting a footwear brand know where you want to go because if you don't have a lot of money, you have to be very specific about where you want to spend it. Absolutely. And I think that was really important for me to know that like I know I could go out and try to get orders and then if I get orders, I could try to get a factor and show them that I got the orders and maybe they can back me with the money, right?

So I at least had that understanding in the back of my head. Got it. And so earlier you said, you know, you wrote this business plan, you thought in the first year you could make $10 million dollars all going crazy. Are you able to share what the reality of that first year was like you know knocking on doors? Oh it was nothing. Uh God I want to like I don't even know the dollars and cents now because it's probably so small. I mean we're basically a $10 million dollar brand now 10 years later. And so it was like I mean Because in 2011 12 I want to say we didn't have our website until 13 or 14 so like I didn't have any internet sales coming in so it was just wholesale. So it was just the orders that I was getting in like at first it was nothing like I had a little store that bought like 10 shoes and you know and I bought inventory because I didn't want to not have the product to sell so I thought like I'll have the product and then I'll sell off my inventory. You know that's kind of how I did.

It is like you know I just hope that they liked the shoes that I bought right? Because a lot of times that's not the case like the buyers will be like I like everything except the shoes you like you're like amazing, amazing things. But we I mean it was tiny, it was teeny tiny if you imagine like a few couple pairs like here and there like you know it's very minuscule and when did things start to kind of change and you know it started to snowball and pick up and feel like things were really moving for you. It's really interesting that question because In my first I would say in 2012 I got big orders like I got into Neiman Marcus, I got into sacks, I got into Jeffrey's, I got into, I got into big stores all around, I got into several stores in Japan. Like I got into like I started getting into all of these retailers but it wasn't profitable, you know, and to be honest like it felt like oh my gosh I've made it right and you're shipping shoes and you're packing all the orders.

It was just me at the time I didn't have any employees. So I was designing developing packing, shipping the orders, the accounting, all of it. It was just me. And it was insanity. And the bibles that they give you of how you need to pack and ship your shoes to go to these department stores was insane. And if you didn't send it right, they charge you back. Like you get you get deducts from like not chipping, hey God, like you know did a good job but like it's one of those things where you think that the wheels are turning right and I was like this is great and I would get out there and I would go do these personal appearances and all these stores, and I'd meet the customers, But then I'd just be standing there all alone and the momentum of the visibility from the outside perspective, like, looked like, oh my gosh, she's so successful. But from the inside, it was a lot of me traveling all over alone, being at these department stores, sitting there for hours alone, waiting for somebody to like me, you know, it's like the little, you know, cow or kids just standing there being like, do you like me?

You know? And it's and it was super intimidating. It was super depressing to tell you the truth. So, it, like, it came to to fold where I started getting the Israeli, I was super lucky to get picked up by these stories? I mean, like, literally that first season, it was spring 2012, you know, I remember being in Jeffrey's and then I met Jeffrey and he introduced me to vogue and vogue interview, like, and it was this, sort of, and I'm thinking, oh my gosh, this is amazing, I'm taking off. But then at the end of the day, I'd look and I'd be like, oh my God, how am I still not able to pay my bills? Like, how am I still not able to keep this thing going? And is it gonna eat me alive? Like, am I just gonna like, am I gonna implode? You know? And so, to be honest, it didn't really start clicking until two years ago, wow, okay. And is that because like the numbers just weren't right? It was because I think it was also because I was so disconnected Because I launched in a kind of a transitional time. So right before like 11, if you wanted to be really successful, you were in wholesale, you were in department stores and you were in boutiques and there was a lot of money in that industry and a lot of spending and it was really big and fabulous.

But I think between 12 and on because of the Internet, people started doing direct to consumer brands. There was this sort of shift, it was like things were moving online, retail stores didn't have the power that they used to. So as a brand, I was kind of in this weird middle spot, I wasn't a direct to consumer brand. I was starting as a wholesale brand. I started my website, it was sort of this like odd space to be in. And I think that I didn't know who my customer was. I had no idea who she was. And I think when you don't know who they are, I knew who I wanted her to be, right, but I kept having different retailers tell me, oh, can you make this purple shoe? And would you do this shoe like in two inches higher and nobody likes this shoe and like I kept hearing all that noise. And it's so funny because I heard all the time. You're so directional and I have the stripe shoe that Mr smith and everybody told me that shoe was terrible and that she was our best seller still to this day because I held onto it.

I believed in it. I was like, no, I think this is unique. Like, this is my signature. It's my first shoe. It's where I started like, I don't want to get rid of it. And I think it didn't turn or click to be successful because I just felt like I was hearing so many different things that I was never hearing positivity. It was always negative. It was always like, you could do this better or we don't really like that or you show your collection and like, somebody would come in and take pictures and I'll be like, thanks. And you're like, is that it like a man's soul destroying. Yeah, I'm not that like, I needed like, constant, you know, positive affirmation. But like, uh oh, this looks great or this collection really isn't for us. But I really appreciate you taking this, like, just a conversation. But sometimes it would just be like, quick, quick, quick. I see a by and you're like, are they going to buy it? They're not gonna buy it. You know? So, totally. It was really tough. It was really tough. So how did you go about figuring out who your customer was and stop kind of listening to the retailers, the internet. So our website, like, as soon as our website started jamming, we started getting emails from customers like left and right.

And I'm talking like full on letters and I've never, I've never written a brand before in my life or said like, hey, I wore your shoes at my graduation, I've never done that. And so when this communication started coming and I was like, this is so cool. Like, these women are so rad and the fact that they wanted to share it with me is even more amazing. They didn't know I was a small brand, they were just sharing because when time passed on, we had a consultant come in who basically interviewed some of our customers so we can find out more about who they are like, and we just call them and ask them several questions. And it was so funny because some of them were like, I don't know if Angela Scott is a made up person or what, but like, this is an amazing brand. Like, they didn't think they didn't know I existed for a little while. And um I think that it's just the website really changed the game because I had a direct connection to these women and I started understanding who they were and they started telling me the stories of their career journeys. And that's when I was like, oh my God, we're this brand for women who mean business. Like, they told me like, it wasn't me going, oh this is a great marketing idea, I'm going to do this, like, and it's funny because it resonated with my original reason for making the brand was because I wanted comfortable shoes to do business in and the fact that they were telling me that back to me, it was so crazy because it was like, oh my God, it's meant to be like, this is real.

Yeah, brilliant, So cool. I love that for you. Yeah, When you say everything really kind of started to change around two years ago, what was that? Inflection point? What happened two years ago? You know, two years ago I had my first million dollar month, and it was kind of one of those holy ship, is that real? Like, that's real? And I know in the scheme of fashion, you know when you're talking about luxury, these brands do that in a week, right? But for me, it was beyond me, I was so proud and I was so honored, you know, and I couldn't believe it, it was almost like that thing that are there really that many people who in one month bought our shoes, like that's incredible. So I think that's what it was, it was, and it was also two years ago that my team went from Two of us to 12 of us. So like, we had this split where I started hiring more team members and it became real because we were actually like a full team, I'd come to a full office Madison is my right hand.

And she's been with me since I was in Dallas and she was my intern and she went from an intern to a part time employee to a full time employee to, I moved her to L. A. She worked at our retail store to, then I moved to santa Barbara like and she's on maternity leave now and she comes back in two weeks and I'm just so proud that her and I built this company along with my business partner and that comes to the financial side of things. Got it, wow! When we're talking about like marketing and doing that million dollar month, when things, you know, you were like holy sh it, this is real, this is happening, what was driving that growth, like how do you do a million dollar months? You know, if I had that answer, I would do it every month. Um I think it's just one having product. So I think the product game is really interesting merchandizing is always a lesson to learn because having the right amount of product at the right amount of time, you know, we do really well in the fall months because I'm more of a closed toe kind of girl and like spring has always been like a little tricky for me as a designer because I designed all the shoes and like Spring is always a little tricky because I'm not a sandal person, like I'm a sandal person if I'm in Mexico and I'm on the beach or if I'm in Hawaii, but like in real life, like I'm not going to like, I think it's kind of dirty wearing sandals like on the street, like in new york, it's like, like I don't know, I think about that.

So like, so my brain doesn't think about footwear in terms of like summer and so we tend to do so you know, obviously like we're loaded with inventory and with shoes in the fall half and that really supports our brand. So, but in the merchandizing game you do have to then go, okay, well how do I get the months in spring to be just as good as the months and fall? And I think that that's always down to product, right? You know, having enough product, having enough product understanding that there's a difference between designing what you love and what you'd wear and designing what, you know, your customers would wear. So that's always an interesting balance to like being the ceo and being the designer, I have to look at it from both sides of my brain, I have to look at it as a financially responsible, like what are the numbers and what's the feedback from customer service about what our clients are really liking, what shoes they're returning why they're returning them, what shoes they're looking to buy and designing for that and not just designing because I was inspired by this cool beach in Capri Got it.

You know, that's so true. That's so true. You've really got to, you got to put that split multi hat on to be able to pull that off. Yeah. And to not underestimate the value of your customers. And I think a lot of people are always like, how do I get more? And I would say, how do you take care of the ones you have? How do you retain them? Because they're your marketers, they're your number one fans. They're the ones that are going to tell other people about you and if you don't take care of them, what kind of brand are you? You know, you're just burning through people like that just doesn't, it doesn't feel good to me. And I think that's why I like, you know when we started going direct, it felt more successful because we were talking directly them and we knew them. We understood them like, you know, we know, you know our clients dogs like we do things where like if their dog is sick like I'm a real big pet person, but like we'll send them a dog gift. Like we know our customers, they're like our extended family and I think that's really important to value because a lot of brands just sort of burn insurance through people and are like, okay, we've got these, but we need more and it's like more isn't always better keep serving the people who already love you who are already your true fans totally owning that relationship.

Sure. You mentioned a moment ago your business partner and the financial side of things. Can you go into a little bit more detail of who that person is and and how they've helped you build the business? Yeah. Um I actually worked for her. So the funny thing is, is that um I worked for her for about six or seven years. She is, I don't want to say muse because that's more of a fashion kind of like, you know, it's a mystical, she's um she's a mentor. When I worked for her, I really honed into my abilities of luxury and what it meant to to not only understand luxury but to understand, you know accountability and respect. And I was in a state manager for her and I just really understood that like I worked on their construction projects, I worked on parties. There's so much that encompassed what I did for her that it really built my base for my work ethic. And when I moved to Dallas to be with my husband and started working for Neiman Marcus.

Um I no longer, you know worked for them. But I continued to work for her nonprofit organization. So we stayed in touch and we became really close friends and when I started the brand, I lived in Dallas and I wanted to visit some stores in L. A. And I would stay at her house. It was so funny. Like her and her husband would be like, good luck, you know, have a good send you off to school are cases, you know, don't forget your lunch totally. And um, and she's only like seven years older than I am. So, but it was really encouraging. And I remember one night I came home and I told her like, oh, I think I've got some orders like this store placed in this store place. And she goes, well, how are you going to pay for the shoes? And like, I'm not sure. I haven't figured that out yet. And I didn't know yet. Like I didn't know you and I had applied for several like women business funds and small loans, small business loans. So I was in the process of doing it. I looked into factors and like that was kind of where I was going to rest my head against as a factor is somebody that like basically they charge you a fee, but they, if you have a receipt from like a department store that basically confirms an order in writing, they'll back it and then you pay them back.

Like they'll pay it forward, they'll pay the invoice or the production, but then they'll take a percentage, you know, off the top of what they end up putting in fourth and then however long it takes for you to pay them back, the percentage goes up higher. Got it. But I figured like that could be my way to do it is if I have enough, you know, but that would leave it up to me to make sure I get those big accounts like the Neiman Marcus and things of that nature. But I thought that I would do it that way. And she just looked at me and she's like, well what about me? And it caught me off guard. But it was also like, God, you know, sometimes you never think about the people right in front of you that are your supporters and that are your, you know that are there to back you and she's like, I'm not going to give you money, but why don't I, you know, slowly as you prove to me that you can do this if you've got an invoice that needs to be paid or production you presented to me and we'll start slow. So she actually didn't go, oh, here's money. It was more like I'd submit an invoice and she'd go, okay, that's approved like, and it got bigger and bigger and bigger as like things got bigger and bigger.

But like I think a lot of times in funding, we forget that there are communities of women and people that are there to back you and don't be afraid to ask. You know, don't be afraid to ask. I didn't ask in that time. And so I'm super lucky and grateful that she actually offered because I don't know if I would have had the guts to do it. So like in hindsight, I would tell anybody starting a company don't be shy to ask people for money. Don't be shy because you know, women don't value their worth as much as men do and they really need to start doing it and really start believing that like they're worth the money and to go out there and whether you've got something that you think is going to be successful or not pretend like it is, you know, own it, own it and say, hey, this is going to be really big and I'll do it. And you know, my situation wasn't, oh, here's a million dollars, go run with it. It was like, I'm going to hold you accountable and we'll go through this process together and if I see that you're, you know, you've got a proof of concept now.

But if I see that like once you're in the store is your shoes actually sell and we go from there, then I'll continue to help fund you and that's how our relationship group and how does that look in terms of, was it like, okay, you'll fund these invoices that are being improved and then I'll give you like a small percentage of equity and over time that grows or is it like, oh this is alone and I'm going to pay you back or how did that work? So it was all alone. So the entire amount that she invested was alone. So none of it was capital contribution, it was purely alone and that loan had an interest but a very low interest of which, you know, I would pay overtime and which was also great to in the sense and of, you own it a little bit more when you know that like it was two fold, it was one that like there's no way a bank was gonna give me anything because I didn't have anything worth them to give it to. So like a factor could get involved, I'd have to find other investment, but like banks are very tough to get money at a lower interest and to get them to believe an idea, especially like mind of a woman sportswear brand that's making these like women who mean business shoes, you know what I mean, like approval concept, the banks have to believe in your idea and if it's not something that's like, you know, tech company and it's gonna blow up, you know, it's really hard to get that investment fund.

So um the way our relationship was is that it was alone and that I ran the company on the profit. So like because we were in stores, there was money coming in, right? But the hardest part about footwear is the production, so the money that she loaned me basically paid for production, it paid for all of my costs of goods. So everything having to do with the footwear, manufacturing the boxes, the bags, the, you know, the shipping goods, the freight forwarder that had to import the duties, you know, everything having to do with my cost of goods is what the loan paid for. And then the rest of it was, and this is why it was so tough to is because it was like, she's going to pay for that, but like you have to make money to pay for anything else. So if you want to hire anybody, if you want, like, so I didn't get extra funds to like run the company or to put into marketing or put into pr I just got a loan that covered my expenses for the shoes. So like you could have the product, but like then you have to pay for all the other stuff, wow, that's so interesting in a really cool concept, I guess to approach this, you know, differently without going out and looking for specific investors.

And yeah, going down that route of loans through a bank and all this kind of thing. It's a really interesting concept. I haven't had anyone share that on the show before. Well, it was super dynamic because, you know, again, like it was a woman believing in another woman and that I think is like super important is that my funding did come from a woman and she's like an angel investor, but like it was also, you have to prove yourself. I'm not just gonna give you $10 million to go and you're gonna tell me that you're gonna be $100 million business. And who knows what way would have been more successful totally. Where is the business today? You said earlier, you, uh, you Know, around a $10 million dollar business, you're obviously kicking goals. What's the business like today? What's the future like? Well, it's super weird being that we're in this like covid lockdown, but I do believe that there's like a renaissance upon us. I think that there's this movement happening and I'm really excited for it. And fashion has changed so dramatically during this last year.

And I think it's because people's priorities are changing. I think for me like work wardrobe and what the work environment looks like has totally changed. You know, the landscape is different. You know, I think that there's this really interesting woman's movement where I'm hoping that not only businesses and the government and you know, other individuals, but I think people are going to invest in women more and understand that in order for women to be future leaders, we need to have flexibility with what work schedules look like. I mean they're mothers, they're, you know, we can be a mother and we can also be a Ceo and we could kick asset both if we're given the flexibility to work within those parameters. And I think that a lot of people including mail, you know, leaders got to see what it's like to be a parent at home with kids and also have to work too. So I think that the script has been, you know, flipped a little bit. And for our company, I think we really, you know, we really got a lot of support during Covid.

And I think it's because I have like strong empathy for just people in general. And I think when Covid happened, I started to see what was happening to other individuals. I mean like I was in tears. Everyone I'm listening to, you know that my podcast, the new york times and the daily every morning and just like these heartbreaking stories of people going through such struggles and all the death and just like in the medical industry suffering and and we have a huge customer that is in the medical industry. And so it just felt like with all of that happening. I really wanted to support them. And I was struggling as a company as well like thinking, oh my God, am I going to keep my employees in check and I can I keep them on board and what TPP alone do I, you know, sign up for. But at the heart of it, I just started donating money like we donated to girls inc in town because they were suffering a lot of families, you know, it's an after school program, but we also have to realize that these programs feed these Children and that these parents depend on that and so we supported them and then they change their program to more or less support them through food and and thanks to that because they couldn't have the programs open, so we donated to them and then we ended up donating to Women in Need new york city, you know, and we donated to Loveland Foundation and there was just so many and then you know, feed him feed America, like I literally went online and thanksgiving and like 7 to $10,000 donation on my phone because I was just like people are suffering and I think that really taught us a lesson that when you support others, your community will support you and I see that in the future, I see it being a mutually beneficial, you know, path in the future and because we did that, like our community of women do they step up for us, they showed up, they kept buying and they kept being here for us and that is like invaluable and I think it goes to show again like that sort of karma that full circle, like if you raise somebody up, if you support others, it will follow the lead, you know, and so I think the landscape for us as a brand is really building a bigger community of that and giving women the platform to share their stories.

And you know, we're not just about selling footwear, but I want to be about building a community for people. I think fashion industry can be very isolating and it could be very non inclusive. And I think not even as a marketing term here is that I really want to give women like the, you know, the head of a sanitary department or a lead project manager in construction, that's a woman or a teacher or just a marketing manager or, you know, an HR director, like, these women are fantastic and the fashion industry should recognize that, and that's what I want to do is a brand is I want to recognize these women and I want to share their stories. So like that for us, like, we're starting to do these instagram lives with all of our different clients because I don't want to just sell them shoes. Like, I want to let them talk like we had somebody who's the HR of Haggerty, which is like a vintage car insurance company and I had her on like, why are you having me on? I'm like, because you're dope, like, you're amazing. Like, tell us about yourself and I think it will encourage other young girls to think there's more than just like those glossy ideas of what a great job is like to be an HR manager is a fucking incredible thing Just as much as it is to be a designer.

That's so true. And it sounds really, it's that case of you get what you give for sure. You're putting it out there and you're getting it back. I love that. Yeah. What is your top piece of advice for women who have a big idea and want to start their own business? Do it um do it. But like I said, like, when we kind of first started talking is like, talk about it, talk about it, share it with a lot of people, you know, discuss it, you know, build it, build a community around it. Talk to other, you know, leaders that you believe in and don't be afraid to ask for help. I was afraid to ask for help in the beginning, and I think I did a lot on my own and there's some funny stories attached to them for sure. But like, I had a bigger struggle that I think I needed. I think I could have asked for help more often. So, if you have a big idea, ask for help, don't be afraid to ask a dumb question because all questions are good questions, like, don't be afraid to be like, what's profit mean or what does a margin?

Like, I don't know what a mart what's a good margin, You know, like, don't be afraid to ask them questions, especially in the beginning when you have an idea because that's when you get all the best advice because you're not threatening, you're not competition. You're just like, somebody who's curious, you have an idea. Like bi curious, totally. I really feel that, you know, even the other day I was listening to, um it was a talk on clubhouse from this guy, his name's sam pa and he is the founder of the hustle and the bustle just got acquired by hubspot full, you know, Undisclosed, but probably circa $30 million. And you know, he was having lots of people come up and ask questions on the, on the chat and I kept having these questions and I kept not asking and I didn't, I wasn't pressing the button to put my hand up because I was like, maybe I'm gonna sound stupid and like maybe these people and I didn't, the whole conversation finished, it was like an hour long and I came to my husband and I was like, I'm so disappointed in myself because I had so many questions and I didn't ask them because I was too afraid. And it's bizarre because this is what I do for a living, right?

I ask women questions on the podcast that I don't know the answer to and I was like, I, I think there was one woman who actually spoken that thing. It was like, all these guys and their questions weren't amazing either. They were fine. They were just normal questions. Like some of them amazing. Some of them normal, some of them whatever like and I came away and I was like, fuck, like I should really force myself to ask the dumb question even if I'm worried if it's dumb like just put it out there. Yeah, I totally feel that it's so true. At least you tried. And I think that that's a big difference between men and women totally is they're not afraid. They've they've got this blind confidence. It's just like that. I don't care, right? Yeah. Who cares what other people think? We're too sensitive and sensitivity is beauty. It's a beautiful thing. I think it's great. It's feminine. It's part of our lure in our intelligence, right? But it also holds us back. And I think that that's where we just have to go. Okay, like I'm going to ask the dumb question and if they look at me like it's a dumb question at least I tried absolutely.

For sure. We are up to the six quick questions. Part of the episode, question number one is what's your why? Why do you do what you do? Because I love it. I love it. I love that. So simple. Amazing Question. Number two is what do you think has been The # one Marketing moment that made your business pop. That's a tough one. I think when we started using the language for women who mean business. Love that. Dude. I also see you trademarked that we did so cool. Yeah, I did. We did. I need to start using it in more places now. Yeah, for sure. Question number three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What kind of books are you reading or podcasts are you listening to to get smarter? You know, that is such a hard question right now because the last year I feel like I'm just getting dumber and I don't know if it's just because of the covid. It's like that Groundhog Day vibe is that I've listened to every podcast I've tried to read every book and I feel like I'm losing I don't know, touch of my intelligence, like I feel like I'm getting more distant and I don't know if it's just because it's all in solitude and there's not a lot of like communication with other people because I feel like I get smarter when I'm traveling, when I'm around other cultures.

When I'm talking to other people when I'm developing conversation and when I'm speaking different languages, like I just feel like there's something about travel and community and commerce that makes me feel more intelligent because I'm using my language when it's all inside, right? You're listening, you're reading. I feel like there's a lack of I don't know, I get it right? Like it's like it's energy. You like you're lacking the energy and that kind of like you thrive on that. Yeah, there's only so much you can consume where you feel like you're just hearing your same voice in your head, right? Yes. So true. So true. You again, you again Question # four is how do you in the day, what are your am or PM rituals that keep you feeling happy and successful and motivated when I'm up early in the morning and I get up and I exercise is when my motivation is the best. Now. Do I do that all the time? But is that my thriving moment? Absolutely. Like I'm talking like six a.m. Workout coffee podcast like and then off to work.

Like maybe you walk with the dogs like that's my jam. If I could have that every day. Like that's the rhythm that I love most. I have the most energy then too totally. I'm the same. Not that I ever do it, I never get up that early bit recently then sometimes like I guess and again this last year and I gotta, I gotta let go this last year, right? I gotta just like it's holding onto my legs. It's just like biting on my ankles. But like I think that that my husband wakes up at 5 30. So like I'm up because our house is small and I can hear him like tinkering around, I can smell the coffee. I'm like, time to get up. Gotta go. Okay, question No five. If you only had $1,000 left in the business bank account. Where would you spend it? I'd give a little bit to every single employee. Amazing. And last question question # six is how do you deal with failure? What is your mindset and approach to it? White eyed because if you can recognize failure you can create a path to better success in the future.

Amazing Angela, thank you so much for taking the time to join me today, loved chatting with you, love your story. This was so fab. Yeah, that was amazing, thank you so much. I really appreciate it. Hey, it's Doom here. Thanks for listening to this episode of the female startup club podcast. If you're a fan of the show, I'd recommend checking out female startup club dot com where you can subscribe to our newsletter and learn more about our D. I. Y. Course the ads, M. B. A. I also truly appreciate each and every review that comes our way. It might seem like such a small thing, but reviews help others find us. So please do jump on and subscribe rate and review the show. And finally, if you know someone who would benefit from hearing these inspiring stories, please do share it with them and empower the women in your network. See you soon. Mhm

How to start a fashion footwear brand + reaching “overnight success” after 10 years, with Angela Scott
How to start a fashion footwear brand + reaching “overnight success” after 10 years, with Angela Scott
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