Earlier this year, Jodie Fox found herself at the Screen Actors Guild Awards alongside Meryl Streep, wearing a designer gown and taking selfies with Sophie Turner from Game Of Thrones. How did this former lawyer from Lismore in rural NSW end up at the most glamorous event of the year rubbing shoulders with Hollywood royalty? Simple. She founded a shoe business.
But not just any shoes business. In 2009, Fox founded the custom footwear website Shoes Of Prey – allowing women to design their own shoes – after struggling to find the perfect pair of heels herself. Along with her then husband Michael Fox and friend Mike Knapp, the trio started off with an initial investment of $50,000. “It was intense. I did a lot of my work from the couch,” says Fox of the early days. “I remember I would fall asleep at night with my laptop in bed and wake up the next morning and start at it again.”
Eight years later, the three-person team has grown to 220 worldwide with a factory in China. The couch has been replaced by a swanky office in L.A. and the $50,000 initial investment has been surpassed by $25 million in funding. Fox is reminded of how far she has come and how big her business has grown every time she opens her office door in the morning. “It’s mind blowing that what started off as an idea is now this physical tangible thing in the world – and pushing that Shoes Of Prey door open every day is a reminder of that,” she admits.
Fox credits part of her success to a movement towards experiences over things. “Shoes Of Prey is the only place where you can get custom made shoes at non luxury prices – and you can put them together in the same way you would put an outfit together, choosing everything including the colour, fabric and heel size,” she explains.
The big question – of course – isn’t why the business has succeeded. It’s: how many shoes does Fox own? “It’s well into the 100s,” she says with a laugh. “I still have the first pair of shoes I ever designed.” Here Fox answers the other tough questions…
Secret to success: Push yourself before you’re ready. In life, it’s natural to want to prepare for things, but the truth is, life is messy. You need to get in there and try things.
Breakfast of champions: I make my own green smoothie every morning. When I went travelling for a year in 2015, I dragged my nutri-bullet with me.
Hardest lesson: Don’t take things personally. It’s not an easy thing for me to do because I care deeply about my work, but sometimes you have to make tough decisions and know business isn’t personal.
Top interview tip: Show your passion. You can be the smartest person on the planet, but I also want to know you care.
Coffee order: If it’s a good coffee place, an espresso. If it’s questionable, I’ll order a flat white.
Wind down: Hanging out with my cat Hunter on a Friday night. (We can see why….)