The Shoe Garden is five years old this Friday, 14 April, and I could not be happier as a proud shoe shop owner!
Well, I made it to five years! I hear so many sobering and alarming stats that something like one in three new small businesses don’t make it past the first year, let alone the second, third or fourth. Ouch!
And then there’s the more exciting stat that if a small business can survive five years, it has the strength, resilience and momentum to flourish.
All stats aside, rest assured that I’m not taking anything for granted. I’ve had some pretty tough times, many of which I share in my book, “In My Shoes” and so for me, every time I sell a pair of shoes, I’m grateful. As always, the tough times are when you learn the most, so I feel now even more empowered to forge ahead for another five years and beyond. How exciting is that?!
While I have not created a revolutionary new product or a new service like many new businesses these days, I have created a new brand: The Shoe Garden. I was able to develop and build my brand from scratch, ensuring it reflected my values and vision of providing gorgeous long shoes in size 10 and up in an environment that was happy, friendly, kind and welcoming and in a manner that was honest, ethical and dedicated to giving back.
I am probably most proud that I have raised $19,047.55 for MicroLoan Foundation Australia through my Shop Share Care program since becoming a not-just-for-profit. Just over $13,000 of that is from sales at The Shoe Garden. This money will help some amazing women in regional Malawi to start a second-hand clothing stall, cook and sell doughnuts or diversify their business and sell different types of fish at the local markets. Small loans that are repaid with interest and savings in a supportive environment that includes mandatory training in business principles is a surefire winner for success. I’m super proud to donate a portion from everything I sell to this amazing charity and take care to be as transparent as possible about my giving back. You can see every donation to date here.
I love it that, after five years, I still get giddy with excitement when I walk into my shop. Maybe it was because for 23 years I was doing something so different that five years of being a proud shoe shop owner still feels very new and fresh. Or maybe it’s just because it all feels so right. Yes, I prefer that reason! Along with this happiness, comes a contentment that I’m on the right track and a reassuring feeling that I still have so much to achieve and so many ideas to implement and even more things to learn.
I have met so many gorgeous customers over the past five years; sometimes two or three new ones each day, and I absolutely love hearing their stories, getting to know them and learning more about what they are searching for in shoes. I have laughed, joked and cried with them; and feel like I am a little part of their life whenever they go through another milestone and need new shoes, whether it be for a school formal, a first job, travelling or a wedding, and countless other occasions.
I am truly amazed how beautiful, supportive and kind my customers are. To have met so many brilliant people these past five years has been an amazing highlight.
Until next time,