How one founder’s search for style and comfort led to the creation of a brand that is loved by thousands of customers around the world.
Calla shoes is the brainchild of owner Jennifer Bailey, a bunion sufferer of the last 20 years and a serial hunter of stylish shoes to wear for special occasions. Having suffered with bunions for the most of her life, Jennifer understood the pain of not being able to find shoes that fit better than most.
After developing the Calla concept in 2015, Jennifer spent a year putting all her research, manufacturing and website build requirements in place before incorporating the business in 2016. Since then, she has turned her innovative idea into a profitable business that now boasts customers in more than 60 countries.
It is often said that when one door closes, another opens, and this was certainly the case for Jennifer. While on maternity leave, she was unfortunately made redundant. However, this set back allowed her to re-evaluate what was important in life and gave her the time, and motivation, to take the plunge and push her idea forwards. Fast forward five years and Calla shoes are now worn by thousands of women worldwide.
The great thing about GS1 barcodes is that they are globally recognised which has really helped me sell overseas.”
Taking the plunge
As all founders know, there are typically a whole host of lessons to be learnt and challenges to overcome when building a brand. Jennifer says one of the key things she has learnt is the importance of not putting too much pressure on herself when it came to developing timelines, especially for things that were out of her direct control such as the physical manufacturing process.
Putting this learning into action has helped her embrace the concept of failure and redefine success in line with her own metrics. She believes constantly pushing forwards by working towards consistent marginal gains is the key to achieving your goals, an approach that has allowed her to go from selling one pair of shoes a day to more than 30 in space of just a few years.
She then conducted careful research to understand who her audience were and identify the best platform for reaching them. In her case, this proved to be Instagram which allowed her to share initial designs with potential customers and involve them in the early stages of product development.
Joining GS1 UK
One particularly useful piece of advice Jennifer received early on was the importance of getting the barcodes for her shoeboxes right from the start. “I have always believed in using the best tools your business can afford at each stage of your journey” she said, “so, after researching my options, I knew that joining GS1 UK was my best option.
The benefits of becoming a GS1 UK member extend far beyond barcodes and Jennifer has been able to take advantage of additional support and networking opportunities that have helped her grow her business. “Thanks to the initiative between GS1 UK and Enterprise Nation, I got a really exciting opportunity to pitch to a buyer of John Lewis” she said. “I applied and got shortlisted which was invaluable.”
“The great thing about GS1 barcodes is that they are globally recognised which has really helped me sell overseas” she added. “This has meant that my barcodes are something I have never had to worry about. My GS1 UK membership has taken away a lot of the administrative stress that you really don’t need when running a business as I can be confident that things are ticking along without me having to get too involved. My advice to others starting out on their businesses journey is to make sure you take the time to ensure you have the right fundamentals in place before you enter the fulfilment stage.”