- Tech & Gadgets
- BRW. lounge
Published 23 July 2013 11:51, Updated 24 July 2013 07:54
Shoes of Prey’s director of fashion Jodie Fox says the company strives to be innovative in everything they do. Photo: Peter Rae
Online designer shoes retailer Shoes of Prey has been named Kogan Australian Online Retailer of the Year, which will no doubt help in the founders’ bid to attract $20 million in funding.
The company, which was started by three friends Michael Fox, Jodie Fox and Michael Knapp in 2009, has been making a big dent in the retail world simply by letting women design their own shoes online.
The three founders have since started another company – online spectacles store Sneaking Duck. It was also a finalist in this category, and last year won BRW’s New Retailer of the Year and Innovation in Retail awards for helping transform Australia’s $1 billion prescription glasses industry.
The Shoes of Prey site, which as of Tuesday has 130,000 Facebook likes and more than 7000 Twitter followers, lets women design every kind of shoe imaginable from ballet flats, to stilettos and sandals, to ankle boots.
Customers can jump on the site, pick the type of shoe, the colour and the material (including snakeskin, soft leather, silk and suede). It takes about five weeks to make a pair. The shoes, which cost $139 upwards, are then delivered for free to the customer’s door within days.
Shoes of Prey has already attracted big investors, including the co-founder of software company Atlassian, Mike Cannon-Brookes, Silicon Valley investor and blogger Mike Arrington (he co-founded venture capital firm CrunchFund), and US start-up investor Bill Tai of Charles River Ventures.
The company previously raised $3 million from investors and is now looking for an additional $20 million in funding to employ more staff in its Sydney-based office as well as boost marketing efforts.
Shoes of Prey’s director of fashion Jodie Fox, who recently ran 3km in high heels, says more than 10 million shoes have been designed on the site. The company opened its first actual store in Australia earlier this year, at David Jones’s CBD store in Sydney. Fox says the David Jones store has helped boost recognition as well as sales.
“Customers always ask what our shoes look like in real life – this is the best way to show them,” Fox tells BRW. “We’ve been outstripping our [sales] targets since we opened our doors.”
The Kogan Australian Online Retailer of the Year was announced on Tuesday morning in Melbourne by the peak industry body representing Australia’s $258 billion retail sector, the Australian Retailers Association.
The Visa Australian Retailer of the Year award went to Specsavers, while the eBay Inc Australian Multichannel Retailer of the Year award went to Specialty Fashion Group.
ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman says Shoes of Prey stood out as a leader within the online retail sector, with its “groundbreaking website”.
“This retailer demonstrated to our expert judging panel a strong track record in building their business through superior customer service, cutting-edge marketing strategies and an innovative approach,” he says.
Shoes of Prey is also a finalist in the World Retail Congress Awards to be announced in Paris in November. Other finalists in the “store design of the year” category include big names like Haus Cumberland from Germany, the Chilli Beans Flagship Store from Brazil and Karl Lagerfeld’s concept store in Paris.
“We’re looking at raising another round of funding, so awards like this really help in raising our credibility,” Fox says. “One of our pillars is to be innovative in everything that we do.”
Fox says the directors may also look at opening more bricks and mortar stores like the David Jones flagship. Shoes of Prey has also partnered with Australian designer Carla Zampatti for an exclusive collection of shoes. Fox has also been heavily promoting the company, recently attending New York Fashion Week.
A number of Australian start-ups such as Kaggle have flocked to Silicon Valley to try and grow their business, but Fox says she and the co-founders chose to stay in Sydney. “There wasn’t a good enough reason to leave Australia,” she says. “There’s great talent and opportunity here.”
Fox says while it’s harder to raise capital in Australia than in San Francisco, “we love being in Sydney and want to be part of the tech environment being fostered here”.
Other winners at the 2013 ARA Australian Retail Awards were:
Visa Australian Retailer of the Year: Specsavers
REST Industry Super Australian Individual Retailer of the Year:
-Female – Jo-Anne Oakeshott, Sunglass Hut
-Male – Cameron Richardson, Repco Corporation Ltd
BDO Australian Retail Employer of the Year: Specsavers
Eftpos Australian Independent Retailer of the Year: Native Botanical
The Realise Group Australian Retail Innovator of the Year: Brava Sport
Expr3ss! Australian Retail Graduate of the Year
-Diploma – Michelle Hayes, Beacon Lighting
-Certificate IV – Piyush Bhanot, ALDI Stores
eBay Inc Australian Multichannel Retailer of the Year: Specialty Fashion Group
Kogan Australian Online Retailer of the Year: Shoes of Prey
FCB Australian Retail HR Practitioner of the Year: Jeanswest
Victorian Government Victorian Retailer of the Year: Claws ’n’ Paws Pet Supplies
Roy Morgan Customer Satisfaction Retailer of the Year: Australian Geographic Shop