Laura See talks to Business Matters about her journey to starting up her very own luxury shoe brand, Laura See London.
What does your business do/offer?
Luxury women’s shoes designed by me and hand made in Italy. The shoes feature a splash of my own artwork and a dainty gold hummingbird adorns the sole. The brand is focused on positive, fun and fearless women who appreciate quality, style and comfort.
Tell us the story behind your business?
After my husband passed away from cancer in 2015, I left my job in architectural design to move to Italy on a part scholarship, learning how to design shoes. On my return, I found it was impossible to get an internship, unless I wanted to work for a year unpaid, so when the first lockdown hit, I decided it was time to work on my own brand and collections.
I have always had a passion for shoes and I have painted from a young age so I decided to combine the two. Working in the design industry has also held me in good stead – without smart design a product will not work – footwear is the same. A shoe must support the foot, be wearable and aesthetically pleasing.
What is your background?
I had a completely different job prior to this but I have always worked in creative industries. Although I enjoyed the jobs I’ve never felt truly fulfilled and have always wanted to do something that involved my passion for art and shoes. I still find it hard to believe that I am now living my dream!
What does your role in the company consist of?
I do it all. I design the collections, work on marketing strategies and I’m building a network of women who will love and support the brand. I liaise with the factories in Italy as well as managing the content and photography that needs to be planned around each collection. It is full on!
What sets you apart from your competition?
My story is one that people can relate to it. I am from a working-class background and I am pursuing a dream – I have to make it happen for myself. Laura See London shoes are unique and versatile – the splash of print and the birds adds an instant recognisable USP.
How do you spread the word about your business?
Mainly through social media, newsletters and networking. I speak to everyone – After all, you never know who you might be talking to. I am also holding my first Pop-Up shop in John Lewis on Oxford Street in London from 22nd – 28th November. That will be so exciting.
How has business been during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Challenging. As with any new brand I have been finding my feet these last few months and it hasn’t been made easier with people not really being able to go anywhere; it has had it’s moments. However, I believe timing is everything and things happen for a reason.
How do you see your market evolving over the next few years?
I hope that it will become a brand that women love to talk about, can relate to and want to be part of the journey. The shoes will be stocked by some wholesalers and over the coming months I will be doing a lot more pop-ups as well as nurturing my direct-to-consumer business model.
What’s the hardest thing about running a business?
Worrying that the brand will be well received, time constraints and with the factory being in Italy having to deal with issues as a result of Brexit. There are always things going on behind the scenes, so you have to learn to be adaptable and resilient.
Have you received any financial support for your business?
No, it is all self-funded. It can be difficult at times but I am getting so much out of seeing the brand grow and knowing that my hard work has been worthwhile.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
Dealing with factories. When you place small orders, it can be tricky to find factories who will work with small independent brands. Delays due to Brexit. Also trying to juggle two other jobs whilst building the brand.
What’s the best decision you’ve made so far?
To spend a decent amount of money on branding and photography. Knowing where to spend and where you can do a lot of the leg work yourself is really key.
If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be?
I would have hired a marketing and social media expert right at the start.
What has been your proudest achievement so far?
When the first collection arrived, and I held the shoes with my name on the sole. Also being featured in some amazing magazines and recently being named as one of TECHROUND’s top 26 Fashion Start-Ups of 2021.
What are your hopes for your business in the next five years?
I would like my shoes to be stocked somewhere like Selfridges and all being well to have a store of my own where women can enjoy spending time choosing and trying on the shoes.