Meet Air & Grace
Air & Grace make beautiful shoes for busy feet, with their patent pending Tender Loving Air® technology, providing three layers of luxurious memory foam.
They have 2 full time and 5 freelancers and have been trading for 3 years.
Claire Burrows, their founder takes our Q&A session.
How and why did you start the business?
I have worked in footwear for 20 years – it’s what I know. I saw a gap for comfy shoes but still fashionable for busy females. I gave up my job as it became too much travel - I was away for 6 months of the year in total. I’ve been amazed how quick it’s taken off and the support you get and how many inspiration people I’ve met along the way.
How long have you been a GS1 member?
We've been a member for 1 year.
Do you trade with any partners/channels?
We signed an exclusive agreement with John Lewis stores and Johnlewis.com
What is a typical day like for you?
It's a cliché but there is no typical day for me. You have to turn your hand to all things - product is really only 10% of my day now. I spend a lot of time working on the website, social media, marketing, design, travelling, checking samples, sourcing materials, cash flows and spreadsheets.
What are the main pros/cons to running your own business?
The pros are being able to deliver products that I believe in, rather than interpreting vision for another company. I wanted to make something wearable and desirable.
The cons are the long days, hours, and weeks, doing things you wouldn’t want to do naturally.
What are currently your biggest challenges in the business? What keeps you up at night?
Cash Flow! We are a cash hungry business and it's hard to get credit when you are new. Now we are trading wholesale, we are relying on their payment terms. We are looking to change the business to help our cash flow - we are self financing so far.
What are your plans for the business for the next 12 months?
More investments to grow (external 6 months) to support channels. In SS18, we're launching a heels category! Then it will be growing our ecommerce channel and our John Lewis range.
Tell us an interesting fact about you?
I was born on Christmas Day, and was featured on the front page of the newspaper for being the first baby born that day.
Who inspires you?
Natalie Matinee from Net-a-Porter. She saw a vision and went for it, building up from nothing. She created a new industry despite being told 'no'.
What top tip/piece of advice would you give to our other brands/sellers?
Be Practical - do what you believe in and be prepared to give up everything. Social media is your friend - build a following asap. And finally, be nice and work hard - it pays off.