Jodie Fox

Co-founder - Shoes of Prey

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At the helm of one of Australia’s start-up success stories, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of custom shoe label Shoes of Prey, Jodie Fox, came close to pursuing a very different career path — ballet.

It was her father who piqued her interest in international business — not just the romance of travel but also the type of work and possibilities — and she really held onto his advice as she shaped her career.

Jodie grew up in the small country town of Lismore, New South Wales in a family of impoverished Sicilian immigrants who prized family and education above all. From a young age, she learnt the value of hard and meaningful work driven by passion and the importance of a good education. 

Throughout her childhood, Jodie was heavily immersed in creativity. She started ballet at the age of 2 ½ and continued through to her final years of high school. Faced with a choice in her senior year to continue ballet or be the first in her family to go to university, Jodie decided to study law and international business.

She went on to become a banking and finance lawyer, where deep down, she knew her heart and creative mind were unhappy.

Knowing her family cared about her happiness as much as her success, she took the plunge and turned from practicing law to the world of advertising. It was there that she learnt about building a brand before taking yet another leap of faith to do something that nobody else in the world was doing — to provide women all around the world with shoes designed for them by them — and launch Shoes of Prey, the world’s first website where women could customise their own shoes online. 

The idea for Shoes of Prey came about as Jodie was solving a problem of her own. She had always liked shoes, but constantly had trouble finding the perfect pair of shoes that really embodied her style. It wasn’t until she could design her own shoes that she truly loved them. While traveling, she found someone with whom she could commission shoe designs. As her shoe collection grew and became more and more impressive, her friends and colleagues started asking where she was getting them and she began commissioning shoes for them too.

At the same time, her would-be co-founders, Michael Fox and Mike Knapp, were at Google and saw a real opportunity in the online retail space. With the marriage of the two ideas, Shoes of Prey was born and launched in 2009. 

With no experience or guidance on how to run an online custom shoe business or even any knowledge about shoe manufacturing, it was no doubt a risky move for the trio to leave their jobs to pursue this ‘crazy’ business idea. But it paid off — the business broke even within two months, hit multi-million dollar revenue within two years and is now a global multi-million dollar company with a syndicate of influential investors including Techcrunch founder Mike Arrington, Khosla Ventures and Blackbird Ventures.

Today, Shoes of Prey is recognized as a global pioneer of mass customisation in fashion. It has established itself as a disrupter that is challenging the traditional retail model and revolutionising the way women shop for shoes. 

They’ve been one of the driving forces of the mass customisation trend that we have come accustomed to and now, in fact, expect. While many brands experimented with personalisation experiences, Shoes of Prey was conceived and built around the idea of customisation and allowed women to design every part of their shoes — everything from the style, colours, materials, heel height and heel type — from day one. 

They built their own factory and developed innovative manufacturing processes and technology in house to be able to manufacture products on-demand and at scale. Shoe designed are handcrafted by the brand’s trained technicians and delivered straight to customers within two weeks. 

The brand has had over 6 million shoes designed on its website, ships to customers in over 100 countries, has raised around US $25 million in capital and has Nordstrom as a key strategic investor in the business. 

Shoes of Prey has won a string of awards, including the World Retail Award 2013 for the Store Design of the Year <1200 for its first store, defeating retail giants Karl Lagerfeld, Puma and others, Online Retailer of the Year 2014 at the Online Retail Industry Awards, Best International Conqueror 2015 at the Online Retail Industry Awards and Retail Innovator of the Year 2016 at the Australian Retail Awards. Jodie was named Telstra's 2011 business woman of the year for private and corporate, one of the top 30 most influential women in Australian retail 2014, one of the top 10 Australian female entrepreneurs for 2014, Elle Style Awards Fashion Innovator for 2015, Griffith University's Outstanding Business Alumni for 2015, Top 8 Entrepreneurs to Watch (2015), Top 50 People in E-Commerce (2016) and listed as number 6 in the Top 50 Australian and New Zealand Women in Tech (2016).

And none of it might have ever happened, had she decided to fulfil her childhood dream to become a ballerina.

Jodie Fox appears at The Sunrise Conference where she will share more about how her journey from pliés to law to global e-commerce trailblazer.