In the 21st century, shoes are more popular than ever, among men as well as women. The selling power and profitability of great-looking shoes have encouraged countless celebrities, like Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, Natalie Portman, Shaun White and Kanye West to launch their own shoe lines, ranging from athletic wear to high-end fashion. Like them, you can create and sell your own shoes to the expanding market of shoe lovers.
Planning and Designing Shoes
Identify a target market for your shoes. Read clothing and apparel journals. Discover which demographics buy the most shoes and what kinds they buy. Visit a library. Ask a librarian to assist you with finding research reports on the industry. Identify a demographic that currently is not being served.
Design a few sample shoe styles that are likely to appeal to this audience. Sketch several shoe designs that will characterise the brand you are establishing. If you want to be known as a shoe designer for athletes, start by designing athletic shoes.
Perform some market tests. Upload some of your designs to a social networking website like Facebook. Invite people to your page to vote on their favourite and least favourite designs. Bring your sketchpad to malls and solicit the opinions of shoppers. Allow the general public to help narrow down your first run of shoes.
Choose a name for your shoe line. Create a new word or find an uncommon word in the dictionary that best describes the kind of benefits people will receive from wearing your shoes, such as Nike. Nike is the Greek goddess of victory.
Create a trademark and get it registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Fill out the online application. Fees start at £211.
Find a manufacturer. Manufacturing search engines like AliBaba have listings of manufacturers all over the world. Network with other business owners who manufacture products. Call them up and get their recommendations on manufacturers to use.
Call several manufacturers and interview them. Ask about turnaround time, delivery and their ability to follow your sketches. Negotiate the price of production with the manufacturer you choose.
Send your designs to the manufacturer. Set up your website. Start taking pre-orders online.
Manufacture the shoes yourself if you can't afford to mass-produce the shoes. Shoemaker Mary Wales Loomis writes that you will need cotton, wool, buckram, felt and fabric stiffener to begin.
Marketing and Selling Shoes
Create a marketing message utilising the most important benefit of buying your shoes. Exclusivity, fashion, price and comfort are a few benefits you can focus on.
Hire a web designer to build your e-commerce website for selling your shoes. Allow users to choose from the various styles and sizes you offer. Use lots of well-lit pictures. In the book "How to Sell Clothing, Shoes, and Accessories on eBay" Charlene Davis advises, "Place items against a plain, solid, light-coloured background such as a wall or area draped with a sheet. Although one picture is sometimes enough, more is better."
Show off your shoe line on the runways of local fashion events. Keep updated on fashion-show listings by reading the local alternative newsweeklies available in most mid-size and large cities.
Create online commercials. Hire beautiful people to wear your shoes in the ads. Repeat your marketing message several times throughout each advertisement. Post the commercials on video-based social networks like YouTube and Revver.
Use banner ads online and print ads offline. Commission your web designer to create banner ads from pictures of your hottest styles. Ask the web designer to refer affiliate programs to use for your banner ads. Print promotional advertisements in newspapers. Contact the sales department of the newspapers your target audience reads. Negotiate ad rates.