Shoes of Prey’s Jodie Fox shares her journey from lawyer to online entrepreneur.
Fox started at Blake Dawson Waldron as a university student, working in the firm’s mailroom, and later as a filing clerk and then paralegal. On graduation, Fox joined the banking and finance team, and later moved to Sydney to work with the securitisation team.
Even as a lawyer, Fox says she found herself attracted to the idea of running her own business. “I remember feeling like everyone that I was doing the work for in that advisory sense was doing all the exciting stuff, and I wanted to have a go at being that person,” Fox told NZ Lawyer’s sister publication Australasian Lawyer.
Instead of being the person putting together the documentation, Fox was interested in the opportunity to drive a project and make decisions, and believes it’s a drawcard for many other lawyers who establish their own businesses.
Although she found her work in the law interesting, Fox recalls feeling drawn to more creative roles. After four years with the firm, she left for a role in advertising. “One partner said to me when I resigned, ‘Of course you’re going into something more creative; look at your shoes, look at your glasses!’, and that was before we turned our minds to starting either of the businesses, so it was always there.”
“For me it was never about the intensity of the work or the money,” she says of her decision to leave the law. “It was always about just doing something that would make me happy,” she said.
Best foot forward
“I was solving a problem of my own,” Fox said of the genesis for Shoes of Prey. “I'd always liked shoes, but I never loved them because I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for. Either it wasn't quite the right colour, there was an embellishment I didn't like, not quite the right heel height. When I was travelling, in the same way that you find someone who will make a custom suit for you, I found someone with whom I could commission shoe designs. My shoe collection became really exciting, and my girlfriends asked me where I was getting my footwear. When I explained, they asked me to create shoes for them too,” she recalled.
Meanwhile, Fox’s Shoes of Prey co-founders, Mike Knapp and Michael Fox, who had also begun their careers as lawyers, were by that stage working at Google – Knapp in software engineering and Michael Fox in advertising sales – and were becoming excited about the opportunities in online sales. The trio came together in 2009 and Shoes of Prey was born.
The concept clearly struck a chord: the business broke even after two months and reached multimillion dollar revenue in less than two years. In four years, Shoes of Prey has become a global, multi-channel retail brand, with English, French, German, Spanish and Japanese language sites to serve a growing global customer base. Shoes of Prey now has two bricks-and-mortar stores in Australia, one in the United States, and another five US locations to open shortly.
The venture has also led to other opportunities, such as showing at Australian and New York Fashion Weeks in collaboration with designers like Carla Zampatti and Romance Was Born. The Shoes of Prey team also launched a follow-up venture, The Sneaking Duck, in 2011, which specialises in prescription glasses and sunglasses.
Despite all of these milestones, for Fox, seeing the concept thrive is its own reward. “Every morning when I push the door open into the office is exciting. It’s a really great, tangible moment to be thankful for.”