Amanda Collins is taking the fashion world by storm with her rubber soles, shoe touch up paint and shoe accessories with her company Save Your Sole. Read on to find out about what inspired her to start this innovative business.
Tell us about yourself and your business/es, particularly what inspired you to begin.
I was born in Sydney and have always loved traveling. And shoes. When I was 23, I moved overseas to London to set up a financial services business for an Australian company that had been a client in my banking role. I spent the next ten years setting up that business across the UK, US and Europe and traveling the world. On a trip to New York I bought a pair of Christian Louboutin red soled shoes and the first time I wore the shoes the red sole was ruined. After a lot of searching in New York and London I could not find a way to care, protect or repair the red soles. I was so inspired by the lack of a solution and went out and made the first Red Sole Care Kit. A red rubber repair sole and a red Touch Up Paint to fix the scratches and scuffs – and that is how Save Your Sole was born!
How long did you have the idea for your business?
I had the idea of creating Save Your Sole for about two years before I actually started working on it. As I was living and working in London I had no time to develop it. I sourced the products and had them in a box in my spare room until I had time to launch the business. Friends were coming to my flat and giving me £10 for me to do a pair of soles for them before we launched. That is how I knew I had a good idea.
What has been your ‘Ah Ha’ / ‘I’ve made it in the USA moment’?
Our first ‘aha’ moment was when Perez Hilton featured Save Your Sole on his blog. The emails, sales and enquiries from that one article was a moment where I realized that the US was a big market opportunity for the business and it was definitely a catalyst for the move to the US.
But the biggest ‘aha’ moment was when we launched our product the ‘Sole Sticker’ for designers and stylists at New York Fashion Week. Sitting front row at the shows knowing that our stickers were on the soles of the shoes for more than 40 shows was an amazing moment. Especially as the year before I had been outside the shows watching it all happen around me trying to figuring out how we could be involved.
What have been the hardest lessons in starting a business in New York and how you think it differs from doing so in Australia?
New York can be an amazing place to start a business and at the same time an incredibly hard place to start a business. For Save Your Sole to launch in New York it was all about meeting people and making the right connections in the industry. I found that people are helpful, supportive and will really go out of their way to introduce you to the right person to make your business work. The marketing, growth and expansion was busy, hard work, fun but quite straightforward.
The challenges come from the unfamiliar. Like everything in a new city. Insurance, banking, certificates, taxes, rules & regulations so you really need to have knowledgeable people around you to help you when these things arise as these things can really stop you from moving things forward at critical times.
Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?
Our main success in marketing our business has come from two different channels.
Firstly, we received an export grant from UK Trade & Investment and the British Footwear Association to export into the US market and participate in trade shows in Las Vegas and in New York at PLATFORM and Sole Commerce. This gave us a platform to show our products and how they work in an industry space which led to a distribution agreement in China.
Secondly, our collaboration with designers for New York Fashion Week established Save Your Sole as the ‘go to’ for non slip and shoe sole protection products. The ‘Sole Sticker’ changed the way the industry works in protecting shoes for shows and reduced the time it takes which made using the stickers an easy decision for everyone backstage. This collaboration raised the awareness of our brand in New York and led to new retailers, collaborations and a new group of online customers across the US.
Do you have any mentors, and how have people been with sharing information and their networks?
I have a number of people that I have met throughout my career that are mentors and friends and always willing to listen, help and advise when I need their help. It is essential to have these people when you are running a business especially a business with a global customer base that it operating with offices in two countries.
I have definitely found in New York that people are happy to openly share information, contacts and their networks to help move the business forward. I think that the ‘start up culture’ in New York is one of innovation and collaboration. Our offices are in the WeWork building in Meatpacking and the introductions and networking in our building have been instrumental in taking Save Your Sole forward in the US market.
What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business?
I think the best piece of advice that I could give is that if you can’t stop thinking about an idea then you should do your research and make sure it is commercially viable. And if it is – then go for it! Starting your own business can be like a constant rollercoaster ride so you need to make sure you are committed to the concept and ready to do everything you can to make it work.
Other than yourself, what piece of Australia have you put into your business, and why?
The foundation of Save Your Sole was truly born out of my family background in Sydney. My grandparents moved from Italy to Sydney and started a shoe shop in Annandale where they handmade shoes out of Italian leather for private clients, football stars and even Tina Turner in the Max Max movies. I spent a big part of my childhood in the store and have always loved shoes. Starting Save Your Sole has really been a continuation of that family tradition that started in Sydney, that I took back to Europe and now to the US.
What is next for your business?
We are continuing to build the business globally and are really focused right now on expanding our retail presence so that more customers have access to our products. We currently ship to over 30 countries each month so it has been great to start new partnerships with local retailers. We are also creating some new innovative products for women and their shoes which will launch shortly online.
Do you have an offer or promo code you would like to share with the AWNY community?
Yes – get 10% off your first order with code AWLOVESHOES at checkout.
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