Born and bred in the bush, road tested on Australia’s rugged soil, Millwoods Shoes are designed for life down under – giving you the support you need for everyday living.
Once upon a time, I was known for sprinting in stilettos.
I had a collection that would put Sarah Jessica Parker to shame and knew what I put on my feet would make or break an outfit.
Then I had kids. Three of them. Each two years apart. And I needed to run more – literally run – after the children, between errands and appointments, and around work meetings. All the while helping my husband Andrew run the family farm in Wagga Wagga NSW.
I knew my footwear had to change, but I still wanted them to look good. And I wanted that for my kids too, so I started there.
I wanted my children to have a pair of shoes that weren’t joggers or boots, that they could run in, be kids in, that they actually wanted to wear and that they could put on themselves.
As for what I didn’t want? I didn’t want them to wear fluro yellow and green shoes with a nice outfit, and I didn’t want to buy 50 pairs in place of one decent, well-made pair. They needed to be high-quality leather shoes that focused on style, comfort and durability.
I looked to Andrew’s shoes for inspiration – he had a pair of all-leather moccasins that I really wanted for our eldest son, but I couldn’t find a children’s version anywhere. So I decided to give it a crack myself.
With the help of my cousin, we tracked down my sourcing agent and designer Katie, who’s based in Brisbane, and Millwoods Shoes was officially born.
It was a massive learning curve. I didn’t allocate enough to marketing in my first two years and my target audience didn’t exactly follow through with the spending habits they indicated in my market research.
I was about to pull the pin, when more and more mothers began asking me where they could get the women’s version of the shoes their children were wearing.
And I thought, you know what, I’m so deep in the hole now, I’m going to give this a go.
So I dug deep into the design research process. We increased the size of the children’s range, made some tweaks and chose some fabulous colours and prints for the launch. We take our time with the designs, because this is our chance to combine comfort and fashion and I want it to be perfect.
Our shoes are a bit different too – they come higher up on the front of your foot so your toes are completely at rest, they’re not clawing, and they fit like a glove. They’re not a podiatry shoe as such – although that’s something we have planned for next year – but we do consult with a podiatrist to ensure a high comfort and support level.
I started with 200 pairs of the leopard print loafers in October last year. They flew out the door. Then I took part in the Buy From The Bush market and it went bonkers. I sold every single piece of stock I had, and even started pre-selling our next shipment. So in the space of 12 months, it’s gone crazy and I couldn’t be happier.
As for next year, it’s going to get even better. We have the podiatry range planned as I mentioned, but we’ll also release a pointed flat, a loafer with a block heel and build on our recently-launched range of Snoafers – joggers without laces. Because I hate laces – in my view, they break the outfit. Luckily, Millwoods Shoes has the perfect alternative.