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There are millions of shoes in the world, but that doesn't mean that it's easy to find the perfect pair. When Jodie Fox, a former lawyer, couldn't find the shoes she wanted to buy, she commissioned her own designs. Then her friends started asking for the same shoes.
Mike Knapp and Michael Fox, who both worked for Google at the time, thought that Jodie was on to something. In 2009, the three joined together to launch Shoes of Prey, a web-based customized shoe company, in Sydney, Australia.
As the company grew, the team decided to take their online brand into the real world as well, opening design studios in Australia where customers could try on samples for size and view all the textile swatches in person. Now, that offline model is available at Nordstrom in Westfield San Francisco Centre.
"Women were saying to us, 'What are my shoes going to look like in real life?'" Jodie explains. "We understood that you wanted to know what they would feel like on your feet, touch the leathers, see how the colors sit together; that's why we're opening all these stores at Nordstrom."
Jodie invited Racked to give Shoes of Prey's 3D design software a try, so of course we peppered her with lots of questions about custom footwear. Below, everything you need to know about Shoes of Prey.
There's no sketching involved.
"I would love to get to a stage with our technology where you can sketch out [a design] or go to a consultation and make that shoe, but at the moment we need to find a nice balance with what's constructionally possible and pull in that important knowledge from shoe makers to build a shoe that you will comfortable in and that will wear well," Jodie tells Racked. "We do try and make it as open as possible, so you can use your imagination when designing."
You have options.
Customers start with 12 basic styles— flats, heels, sandals, boots, etc. From there, a client can choose from 170 different materials, 10 heel heights, 4 heel shapes, and various embellishment options. According to Jodie, there are literally trillions of options. "There are so many elements for each part of the shoe that you can choose from. In terms of toes, there are a couple of different types of peep-toes, closed toe, pointed toe, etc. We provide you with some silhouettes as a suggested starting point, but once you get in there you can really do just about anything." You can even customize the insole with your own inscription.
Yes, they carry your size.
The brand offers sizes ranging from 2 1/2 to 15. They also make half-sizes, and narrow and wide widths.
Prices are surprisingly reasonable.
The base price at Shoes of Prey is $130, and the average price is about $220. Jodie says that you would struggle to spend more than $400 on the website, but it would be possible if you created a boot with one of the brand's designer, custom Italian silks and a snake-skin accent.
Design and delivery time.
Some women know exactly what they want, and spend five minutes creating their perfect shoes. Others pour over the options for days. Once you submit your design, you'll receive your shoes within five weeks. (There's a speedier, 14-day option in the US for an extra $50.) Unworn shoes may be returned within 365 days for a full refund, minus return postage.
The most popular style is...
Customers love a classic. The most frequently-ordered shoe is a black ballet flat or three-inch, closed-toe pump. The most popular material is black soft leather, and the five most popular textiles are variations of black leather. "People want the perfect, classic shoe," Jodie reasons. Many of her customers are trying to recreate a shoe that they've loved and lost; others are seeking the specialty sizes. "It's not just about getting a straight down the line product. It's about getting what's classic to you."
Customer preferences vary between countries.
Australians love open-toe, colorful, strappy shoes. The Japanese go for some of the wildest designs. The French favor low, ladylike feels, while Americans prefer classic designs. For a sampling of designs being created in real time, you can check out the gallery on the Shoes of Prey website.
The company has a 100% acceptance rate on wedding proposals.
Several guys have turned to the brand for custom, proposal shoes. So far, all of the "Will you marry me?" shoes have been successful.
Jodie has fewer shoes than you might think.
While the founder orders new shoes all the time, she's downsizing to prepare for a move from Australia to New York. "I had this really sad moment of realizing that it didn't make sense to bring over all my shoes. So I invited over all my girlfriends who had the same size foot as me, and now they're my friends for life. I still have two or three big boxes of shoes. I didn't count, but there's a lot in there.