Breaking Into and Succeeding as Shoe Designer, Start Shoe Business
Breaking Into and Succeeding as a Shoe Designer or Shoemaker
Starting a Shoe or Footwear Line
Shoes have been fascinating us from our early days. From Cinderella’s slippers and Dorothy’s ruby slippers to the magical elves busily making shoes during the night, shoes are depicted as able to transport us beyond the frailties of our human condition.
Without the glass slippers, Cinderella might just have been another girl in a pretty dress. Dorothy may never have found her way home again without the ruby slippers. The cobbler may never have known even brief success. Although customers may be looking for that magical shoe, shoe designers will tell you that it’s a lot more about skill than magic.
Good news for all of us, shoe fashionistas!
You don’t have to live in New York or Paris, you don’t have to go to an expensive design school, but you do have to have skills and persistence to be a shoe designer. There are skills you can attain later.
Most importantly, it is perseverance that you need to be equipped with. Shoe superstars Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Salvatore Ferragamo, Jimmy Choo and Stuart Weitzman will all tell you that the magic in shoes comes from hard work and effort.
Design skills only comprise of 20% of a designer’s success, while the determining factors are actually the business skills (80%). If you have unique (and comfortable) designs for your shoe line, combined with strong business skills, it can be a big hit.
Authenticity is key. Of course, you don’t need to invent the wheel, just be original, innovative and unique with your designs. Now if you think you’re not that creative to break into and succeed as a shoe designer, think again.
Unconvinced? Have you ever seen those shoes or sandals that sell really well, but they’re actually not so creative designwise? Those are “classic” designs, which usually sell very well but don’t require super-creativity.
Another advantage of being a shoe designer is that you don’t need to worry about seasonal trends, unlike apparel designs that change every season. You still keep (or even wear it everyday to work) that Jimmy Choo you bought two years ago, right?
It seems to have that timeless appeal and complement most outfits. Your designs can be like that too. You can choose to design shoes that can be worn over and over again. From business point of you, it means you don’t need to worry about producing new items before the old ones are sold out.
Of course, it’s better to follow the trends, but there are some specializations in shoe design that are completely timeless, such as:
- Bridal and prom shoes
- Outdoor shoes
- Nurse shoes
- Working shoes
- Boys’ and girls’ scout sneakers
- Ballet shoes
- Dance shoes
- Aerobic shoes
- Winter boots
- Skiing boots
If the notion of designing, sewing, manufacturing and promoting your own shoe line sounds intimidating, there are “industry secret” forces to help you out:
- Contract technical designers (they turn your ideas into technical patterns and prototypes)
- Contract manufacturers (send them your design and measurements, they will manufacturer it for you)
- Sales representatives and distributors (they help finding retailers to carry your products)
- Fashion weeks and trade shows (they help you getting exposure to buyers and fellow designers)
- Fashion publicists (these specialists can help you getting the media exposure needed in market penetration)
- If these helps still sound too much for you, consider “embellish” existing plain shoes instead of designing ones from scratch.
- Dyeing prom shoes
- Coloring bridal shoes
- Embroider dress boots
- Embellish costume shoes with beads, rhinestones, ribbons, etc.
- Painting sneakers (hand-painted or print)
With those professionals helping you out all the way from inception to distribution, all you need is some creative juices and unique ideas that distinguish your designing style from the rest of the crowd.
As a shoe designer, you have the choice to design the following items using a variety of raw materials, such as leather, fabric, plastic, wood and their combinations:
- Evening shoes
- Working shoes
- Athletic shoes
- Outdoor shoes
- Male’s dress shoes
- Women’s pump shoes
- Children’s shoes
- Teenagers’ sneakers
- Beach footwear
- Cowboy boots
- Winter boots
- Leather shoes
- Plastic thongs
- Dance shoes
- Orthopedic shoes
In a nutshell, if you have the drive to succeed and somewhat creative (no need to be “super creative”), you’re very likely to succeed in this career. Of course, as a designer you need to continuously upgrading your skills and network with like-minded people, which can be really fun.
As it goes without saying, as a shoe designer, you can enjoy:
The privileges of being a part of the glamorous, exciting and highly lucrative fashion industry
Working closely with professionals that fuel the whole industry
Earning anywhere from $40,000+ to millions of dollars annually
Do you know?
- Luxury goods produced $525 billion in sales in the United States last year.
- U.S. population spent $42 billion to purchase more than 1.3 billion pairs of shoes.
- Of nearly 200 marketers of footwear, women’s footwear was the largest sector of the U.S. market with $20.5 billion in sales, a 3% increase from the previous year.
- The athletic shoe market with Nike and Reebok’s combined sales of $14.2 billion.
- Athletic footwear comprises 35% of total footwear purchases.
- Low-end retailers were the largest distribution channels for the U.S. market, having 44% of the footwear market.
- The women’s sector will continue to be the largest of the footwear market, reaching $22.9 billion, over 50% of the market.
Jennie S. Bev, StyleCareer.com CEO, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief has been featured and cited worldwide for her unique take on fashion, image, beauty, entertainment, art, and fun careers and start-ups and for her humanitarian works and activisms. She is known as an authority in these fields of business. Since 2003, StyleCareer.com has literally helped thousands of new entrepreneurs starting their businesses with confidence.
We have been cited and profiled in Entrepreneur, Teen People, San Francisco Chronicle, Radio Singapore International, Home Business, Canadian Business, The Independent, The Arizona Republic, The Daily Southtown, The Record, Tracy Press, Audrey, FabSugar.com, About.com, Choice Explorer, Dong, Fit, Femina, Dewi, Intisari, Tempo, Fit, Chic, Kartini, Nyata, Bisnis Kita, and many other US and international publications since 2003. We were also nominated for EPPIE Award for excellence in electronic publishing for non-fiction how-to category.
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during The Fashion Week in Fall 2005,
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This 77-page instantly downloadable StyleCareer.com eGuide Breaking Into and Succeeding as a Shoe Designer brings you valuable insider tips, advice and suggestions not available elsewhere to help you embark on this highly lucrative career path.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Myths, The Realities, and the Basics
I Have Some Unique Designs, but Will People Buy Them?
I Live in a Small Tow, How Do I Purchase Materials? How Much Do I Need to Stock Up?
I Have Ideas, but Not Sure about the Business Part
The Truth about Creativity vs. Business
Is This for Me?
Getting Ready for the Big Break
History of Shoe Design
The Shoe Industry
Today’s Market: Cheers and Challenges
Forecasts for New Product Trends
Skills of the Trade
Elements of Design
Starting Your Own Business
The Big Picture
Business Management Plan
Entrepreneurial Spirit and Mindset
Be a One-of-a-Kind Shoemaker: Custom-Made, Bestride, and Specialty Shoes
Be a Mass Producer
Outsourcing the Manufacturing
Promoting Your Business
Trade Shows and Fashion Weeks in the United States
Trade Shows Overseas
Get Listed in Merchandiser Marts
Buyer’s Open Calls
Learning from Pros
Trainings, Workshops and Classes
Job Resources /Scholarships Resources
Industry Online Resources
This eGuide literally saves you hundreds or even thousands of dollars spent on professional workshops and training and hundreds of hours of research. It will help you break into the career of your dream faster without having to repeat the same mistakes that most newcomers do.
This eGuide also includes information on:
Participating in fashion weeks and trade shows
List of vendors, manufacturers, wholesalers and suppliers
List of workshops and classes that teach how to design shoes
List of shoe design schools, which are renowned for outstanding courses in the industry
You can have this exclusive ebook for just $25.99, which you will earn many times over with your first sale.