Sramana Mitra: On your website, I cannot get the shape of the boots. I don’t have the flexibility to be able to change the shape of the boots. You have a certain structure to the boots that you’re offering. You offered customization on the heels, leather, and colors but in terms of the shape of the boot, I didn’t see that I have any option of changing that shape.
Jodie Fox: Currently, no. That’s something that we would love to get to in the future. It just depends on a number of things that we would need to align.
Sramana Mitra: Team-wise, what’s happening now? How much of the company is in Australia? How much of the company is in Hong Kong and US? What has been your evolution in terms of building the company and the organization?
Jodie Fox: We have five offices globally. In Sydney, there’s about 17 people. That’s our headquarters. We are also setting up an office in LA. We also have our production team in China and offices in Tokyo and Manila.
Sramana Mitra: What do people in Tokyo do?
Jodie Fox: They are specific to that market for sales and marketing.
Sramana Mitra: Your design happens in Sydney?
Jodie Fox: It happens out of Sydney, US, and China. It depends on what design is needed. I do the conceptual design work when we are partnering with people, whether it’s another designer for a runway show or with another brand. For our core collection, it’s usually general agreement on what it is that needs to come in next. We don’t need to do the conceptual board for those. That all comes from our China team but there are always be inputs from the headquarters in Sydney. Although there is the creative part of the process, we also look at our data and what our customers are buying to make sure that we’re creating things that they actually will buy.
Sramana Mitra: Are there other companies doing what you’re doing?
Jodie Fox: Yes, there are. We were the first people to do this globally. We were all thinking and developing around the same time. There’s only one company that’s doing it as their core business and they’re from London. We see companies coming into the space and we’re very excited about it. A great example of companies who have it recently are Prada, Jimmy Choo, and Ferragamo. They’re all coming with customizable offerings of their shoe. However, their core product remains mass-produced shoes.
Sramana Mitra; It’s a very interesting trend. I did an online fashion company back in 1999 way ahead of the market. Our core value proposition was personalization – not necessarily custom design. The market has come a long way. Yet personalization is still not a big value proposition that people are offering.
I’m watching and trying to find players who really can do personalization in a significant way. Of course, you’re doing it at a different level. You can’t really do full customization. You have to do it the way you’re doing it. You give a set of selections and people do mix and match.
Jodie Fox: Yes. I guess it depends. If you wanted to do customization, that’s actually, at the moment, a very small business to run.
Sramana Mitra: It’s much harder to scale.
Jodie Fox: Exactly, but it doesn’t mean that it won’t have the possibility of being a big business in the future. It’s just that with the way manufacturing and technology is, it doesn’t allow it to scale. That’s something that we want to get to.
Sramana Mitra: Very interesting. Thanks for taking the time to share your story.