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Falling prey to a shoe obsession

Hayley O'Neill

“The critical thing to be doing is getting out there and trying lots of different things to make your business work well. You’ll make lots of mistakes; you’ll make more mistakes than successes. But you’ll get there…”

Warning: this article may inspire you to design (several) pairs of shoes that may lead to a shoe addiction… 

Hitting a multi-million dollar revenue in under two years is just one of the many achievements online entrepreneur, Jodie Fox, founder of Shoes of Prey, has accomplished in just six years of operation. Shoes of Prey is a website offering customers innovative design tools to create their perfect shoe.

Impressively the business broke even at just two months, which is why in 2011 Jodie won the Telstra Australian Business Women’s Award. Starting with just three people in a lounge room in October 2009, Jodie started the business with Michael Fox and Mike Knapp, both former Google employees.

Ahead of the 2015 Telstra ACT Business Awards to be held at QT Canberra tonight, Hayley O’Neill caught up with Jodie to uncover invaluable advice for those looking to start their own business and hear more about the Shoes of Prey story.


“I didn’t feel like I loved shoes,” Jodie confesses. “I either didn’t like the heel height or the colour was wrong. I just couldn’t find what I wanted. I wanted to be able to create exactly what I wanted.”

“I told my girlfriends about it and they got really excited – so I started making shoes for them. Then my two friends and now co-founders wanted to start an online business. So the idea came about that way.”

Reflecting on the organic start up of the business Jodie shares some of the challenges in the early stages.

“I wish we moved a lot faster – we got caught up with some red herrings,” she says. “[But if I were to do it again] I would tell myself to get more expert people on board and involved earlier. It’s really smart to go on the journey of discovery by talking to people that have done that.”

In terms of starting a business and whether it’s more important being online or bricks-or-mortar, Jodie says it depends on who you’re trying to attract to buy your product.

“I think it depends on the audience that you’re targeting and what your product or service is. In broad terms the benefit of starting online is that there is no capital investment that’s required [like] with a shop front, and your [customer] reach is a lot broader.”

As for starting out yourself, Jodie offers the following advice.

“The critical thing to be doing is getting out there and trying lots of different things to make your business work well. You’ll make lots of mistakes; you’ll make more mistakes than successes. But you’ll get there. Just go and do everything before your ready because you’ll never feel totally ready. It’s best to get out there and start doing.”

For people already in business, Jodie suggests to “be openminded about what the best experience for the customers would be”.

“Constantly ask yourself that question and constantly ask your customers what they need from you,” she shares. “Then you have a really exciting opportunity to make something that really is ground breaking.”

“If your customers are active [online] and they need you to be there to answer questions than yes,” says Jodie, “It’s imporant that your business uses social media too.”

“When you go onto social platforms like Facebook or Instagram, it’s never about being a brand. It’s about remembering to behave like a person and have that personality, and be sharing images that are shareable or interesting to your audience.”

“You should never go on there and sell, sell, sell. You should be on there and sharing things that you genuinely love and want to share with people. Those rules don’t change for brands,” she adds.

But really the burning question every woman is dying to know is what three pairs of shoes should every woman have in her wardrobe?

“A woman needs a pair of flats for running around the city, a pair of high heels for partying, and a pair of boots for winter.”

While Jodie shares her love for the diversity of options available through Shoes of Prey, it’s seeing customers use her website to design their own shoe that she gets a kick out of.

“It’s so exciting for me to see all those shoe lovers out there getting involved in the creative process,” she says.

“Over the years woman have always had to make a choice between wearing something that is comfortable and something that looks good. At Shoes of Prey we are changing that, we go from size two and a half to sizes 15, going up by half sizes. We have a heel height that is comfortable and that is right for you.”

For more information on Shoes of Prey, visit the website but don’t say we didn’t warn you. 


Hayley O'Neill

Hayley O’Neill is a Canberra based fashion stylist and fashion editor for HerCanberra. Hayley works as a freelance stylist at Westfield Belconnen and Woden and began her career styling for The Work Diaries blog. Hayley has lots of experience dressing real people with every size, age, budget and body shape. More about the Author

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