By @SimonCocking

 

Describe the company – the elevator pitch…

Solely Original is a brand new concept in shoe shopping, using cutting edge technology and an intuitive website so customers can create made to measure shoes with their own choice of style, heel height, colour and fabric.

How are you different?

We are the first mainstream fashion brand to use footwear technology to create the cheapest made-to-measure shoes. Made-to-measure fashion used to only be available to the super-rich, but our revolutionary business model allows anybody to design the perfect shoes for any outfit at an affordable price.

Why will the company / product do well?

The average number of shoes owned by a woman is the UK and Ireland is 17, yet most of them will only wear 2 to 4 of those pairs regularly because they are the comfortable ones that suit their own personal style. Our service is the answer to that problem, and the quality, comfort and style of our shoes has already won an army of advocates who are recommending our service to their friends and colleagues. Of course we understand that every start-up is going to face challenges along the way, but we have an experienced team and we’re ready to keep building on our successes.

Where are you based?

London

When was the company launched?

December 2014

What have been your biggest wins to date?

To get a tech business like ours off the ground it feels like there are hundreds of “wins” you have to go through, and it is great to know that each and every one is a step in the right direction. However, perhaps the most rewarding experience so far was when a customer came to our office with a bunch of orchids as a ‘thank you’ gift for the shoes we had made for her. Incidents like this are a reminder that this isn’t not just a fashion brand I’m building, the shoes we make ease people’s long-term suffering from ill-fitted shoes and the style gives them emotional satisfaction.

What type of people (market segment) are you trying to attract to your product?

Because our shoes are completely customisable in both style and fit, they actually appeal to a very wide variety of women. We find they are particularly popular for people creating a pair of shoes for a special event or outfit, so we get a lot of feedback from happy brides, bridesmaids or mothers of the brides.

Comfort is a huge factor though, so we get a lot of professional women who used to have separate shoes for commuting and the office, and even athletes who want to look stylish for a night out but cannot risk hurting their feet with badly fitting shoes.

Tell us about your team?

Our team is still small but we are very committed to what we’re trying to achieve. Iris Anson is the Founder/Managing Director and studied Footwear Design at London College of Fashion and progressed into training and research in the subject of individual fit for bespoke shoes. Prior to that she was working as a tax consultant in the City where she witnessed firsthand the number of professional women carrying spare shoes every day. Barry Fung is the Production Manager, who brings more than 20 years of experience in shoemaking to the team. We also have our talented Marketing Exec, Dee Amend, our Technical Director, James Henry and Mike Phillips who brings a wealth of experience as a board advisor at Solely Original.

What are you long term plans for your product / company?

It is still early days for Solely Original, but the response to our initial launch has been fantastic. International expansion is the long-term plan, and we will be looking to build a presence in some of the world’s fashion capitals such as Paris, New York and Hong Kong in the coming years.

At the moment our product range is only for women, but the problem of ill-fitting shoes and the technology are applicable to everyone. Naturally it therefore makes sense for us to extend our product range to also include men’s and children’s footwear, and we have some ideas for other accessories too.

What are your favourite tech gadgets?

I am still blown away by the quality of the 3D scanners and the photogrammetry applications that we use. This technology has moved on so much in recent years that it is making things possible that we previously could only have dreamed of.

How do people get in touch with you?

People can reach us via our website www.solelyoriginal.com, by email on [email protected], or by calling +44 (0)333 220 2458


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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