Meet the founder of Shaherazad

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Meet the founder of Shaherazad

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Hi Shaherazad, let’s start off by telling me a little bit about yourself. Who is the lady behind the brand?

Hi Nadine. I’m a business woman, a change maker and an avid shoe shopper! My employment background is in commercial retail; I've worked for brands such as Comet, Boots, Superdrug and The Co-operative. My educational background is in English and Cognitive Science. Business is my passion, as is women’s empowerment and alleviating poverty. That’s why I set up my brand; to find a way to combine my three life passions.

 

Why Shaherazad? What inspired you to change the way women wear heels on-a-daily-basis?

I’ve worked in many a boardroom where my feet and those of my female colleagues have been aching at the end of a work day. This can seriously impact whether or not we’re able to enjoy a night out. So I decided to find a way that women could wear heels both comfortably and stylishly. Fashion should never be painful. When it hurts, it’s wrong! So I decided to invent Shaherazad.

 

How did you develop key partnerships to create your amazing designs?

It was one of the most time consuming aspects of setting up my business but also very worthwhile. The only way to develop a key partnership is to invest time and effort in to it. It took me two years to find a factory which I was happy with. The team at my factory are great and I make sure I visit them regularly. It’s the best way to make sure we understand each other’s requirements properly. It took me a year to find a charitable partner with the right due diligence processes in place. But they were worth the wait as I couldn’t have hoped for a better partner than GlobalGiving UK.

I’ve also been lucky enough to develop partnerships with organisations such as Birmingham City University. They’ve enabled me to use their lab to do 3D printing so that I can create the intricate moulds for my designs. It’s such a cutting edge place to work and allows me to develop designs which are only possible with their futuristic equipment.

 

What do you think sets you apart from other competitors?

My product is first to market for it’s 18 hour comfort. Lots of footwear brands use padding to achieve comfort. My brand is the only one in the world to be inspired by the grace and elegance of flamingos which means that the heels are comfortable due to the way that they distribute body weight effectively. The shoellery straps are also a unique concept and I’m so proud of the shoes being manufactured in England.

My proudest point of difference is the philanthropic element of my brand. Lots of companies have Corporate Responsibility policies but I make sure that every pair sold directly supports a woman or girl living in poverty. At least 10% of the operating profit of every pair goes to charitable projects which is a meaningful and often life changing amount.

 

Every entrepreneur or business coach bangs on about finding the right niche. How did you find yours and when did you know it was the right time?

I knew that if I was going to set up a business it had to be something which I would enjoy, and most importantly that other people would also buy in to. I wanted to wait to launch a business until I had enough experience to apply, and having worked at a number of retailers I knew I was ready to give my own business a go. The right time is when you feel ready but just a little bit scared. A little bit of caution along with a dash of confidence never goes amiss!

 

 

What is the number one question every entrepreneur should be asking themselves?

Just because you love your product doesn’t mean everyone else will. Are there sufficient people who will part with their hard earned cash in exchange for your product over other options?

 

Recharging every so often is important. How do you recharge when you’re feeling burnt out?

I love a good pyjama day and a stack of books with a pot of tea!

 

Do you prefer to bootstrap or secure funding, and why?

Secure funding definitely. I like to take risk but when it comes to finances I’m heavily structured.

 

What was that moment like when you receive the first pair of Shaherazad heels?

It was totally magical. I was at the factory when the first pair came off the production line and I was so excited I believe I actually squealed! It was definitely a group hug kind of moment. I wore the first pair that very night to give them a good road test and collected lots of happy compliments. I also dashed out of the factory and bought every body on the production floor doughnuts to celebrate and thank them for all of their hard work. It was a truly brilliant day.

 

What was the design and testing the product process like? Did you find it took multiple trials to get to the perfect heel?

It was hard work and took lots of resilience and creativity. It took a year to complete the designs and a full year after that to test and develop the product. It took about 5 full scale iterations before the final shoe was produced. It’s so important to test, listen, test, listen, test, listen. Asking strangers to test the product is vital as friends and family will often soften what they want to say out of love when what you actually need to hear is the cold and hard truth to make sure the end product is absolutely right. As a result, I have a market leading retention and return purchase rate of my shoes. 60% of my customers come back and buy another colour in the shoes within 2 months of their first purchase.

 

How do you believe Shaherazad will change the way women buy and wear heels in the future?

I would love it if my brand enabled a culture of women buying less, but buying better. It’s important that we feel good in what we wear but that the world doesn’t suffer for it. Ultimately, I want to make the world feel like a happier place through the conscious philanthropic and sustainability choices that my customers make.

 

What plans do you have for Shaherazad over the coming 12 months?

With Brexit on the horizon I’m firmly focussing my efforts on export. I currently export to 16 countries through B2C and I’m looking to extend my reach further in Germany, Austria and Switzerland in particular. The value of the pound makes buying British product especially attractive for export markets.

I also have some new designs launching in time for Christmas which celebrate the sentiment of “togetherness”.

 

 

 
 

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Meet the founder of The Good Quote

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Meet the founder of The Good Quote

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Hi Meggan, I am very excited to find out more about yourself and the amazing platform you have created, but to kick things off, tell me a little bit about yourself.

My name is Meggan Roxanne, I’m 28 years old, born in Hertfordshire to Trinidadian parents, and I’m a writer and the co-founder of TheGoodQuote wellbeing brand which I launched a few years ago.

 

You’ve created an influx of positivity with your Instagram quotes, which you’ve monetised successfully. Where did the inspiration to start this journey come from?

In 2010, it felt like my life was headed in one direction; failure. After many unsuccessful business attempts, attending a course at university I despised and working at a job that was draining my energy and spirit, I quit, everything. I switched off my phone and hid in my room for over 6 months, which resulted in me becoming depressed. I knew I was destined to live off my creativity but nothing was working. In 2011, I began to search online for a source to motivate me, and eventually stumbled across Tumblr.

I launched a blog, whilst listening to Wiz Khalifa’s mixtape “Kush and Orange juice” and one lyric stood out to me. I googled a picture of Wiz Khalifa, opened Coral Impact, added text on top of the image, saved it and posted the image onto Tumblr. I created something new! I created picture quotes! The next day I woke up to thousands of followers, testimonials and requests. People began to replace their BBM display pictures with my picture quotes and it rapidly became an international trend. I continued creating picture quotes, and over the years my following on Tumblr grew to over 4 million. In 2013, I met my business partner, we rebranded and launched our Instagram page - we now have an audience of over 25 million people.

 

You are an inspiration to millions of people who follow your pages. Do you have any inspiring stories of how you have impacted your audience?

Yes, many. Firstly, picture quotes have impacted the way millennials express their emotions and communicate. If you’re feeling happy or sad, you can avoid having to engage in any difficult conversations by simply finding the most suitable quote that matches your mood and posting it directly to your social media page; people then become aware of how you are currently feeling. Knowing that creating picture quotes has changed how we communicate is a huge accomplishment.

We receive hundreds of messages a day, informing us on how our page has helped people overcome depression, or manage other mental health issues, which inspired us to create more content about mental health awareness. People have sent pictures of their personal spaces covered in quotes, whether it be their office table, school locker or bedroom wall.  Some people have even tattooed a few of our quotes onto their body.

One story that really hit home, and brought to light how important this platform has become, was a message I received a few years back on Facebook from a mother whose daughter had committed suicide. She wanted to inform us that she stumbled across a folder her daughter created, which was full of quotes from our Instagram page. She thanked us for encouraging her daughter during her difficult days and wished us well. After receiving that message, our whole work ethic changed.

 

People began to replace their BBM display pictures with my picture quotes and it rapidly became an international trend.
— Meggan Roxanne

 

For the lady behind a 21st century business model. What is a typical day like when you’re not focusing on The Good Quote and The Good Co.?

I eat, think and sleep TheGoodQuote. This business has become such a huge part of my life, I rarely have downtime. I’m so thankful for the patience of my family and friends.

Outside of work and during my downtime I’m a writer and throughout the third quarter of 2017, I will be focusing on a few personal projects. I love travelling and try to leave the country as much as I can. I work out daily and I’m slowly moving closer to only eating plant-based food. I have a huge interest in mental health awareness and cancer research so I research as much as I can. I listen to an audio book every day and watch a lot of documentaries during my spare time; I think I’m addicted to learning. However, my weekends are solely dedicated to catching up with family and friends.

 

 

Tell me a little bit about The Good Co.

TheGoodCo is a positive platform that encourages higher vibrational living, wellbeing and mental health awareness and a social/marketing digital agency, which creates innovative influencer marketing campaigns for businesses and brands.

 

How would you describe your business model?

Our advertising agency works with a large selection of clients every month. Our merchandise store releases a limited range of products every 3 months and collaborates with artists nationally and internationally.

 

Do you think social proof is now vital to all businesses – online or offline?

Yes, of course – there’s no question about it. Without a social media presence, your company barely exists and it’s the only place to gain trust and interest from old and new customers. It’s extremely vital that you or your company has an online presence. I personally wouldn’t trust a company that doesn’t have a social page and failing to keep it updated is just as bad.

 

What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs wanting to break the mould and create businesses they love?

Begin now; remove all the fear and take the risk. Never stop researching the areas within your field, and network with as many people nationally and internationally as you can because in business, it truly is who you know, rather than what you know. Develop an original and authentic idea and stick to it. Create as much content as you possibly can, build relationships first; everything else will follow. Most importantly, if there is someone within your field locally who is successful, approach them and offer to work for free. My business partner opened my eyes to the benefits of working for mentors/ people you admire for free, over a short space of time.

 

Begin now; remove all the fear and take the risk. Never stop researching the areas within your field, and network with as many people nationally and internationally as you can because in business, it truly is who you know, rather than what you know.
— Meggan Roxanne

 

What are your top tips on utilising a small team?

Currently, we communicate with our staff digitally, as they are based internationally. We have a very small team that consists of multifaceted people, who work along a strict structure of weekly tasks and targets. Our business has a unique purpose and we only work with companies who mirror our ethos, so it was imperative for us to hire people who believe in the dream and vision too.  

 

Could you walk me through how you went from running an incredible Instagram account to monetising it in multiple ways?

Within the first week of launching the Tumblr blog, I already received over 30,000 followers, and at the time I was in a lot of personal debt from failed business attempts, so I launched a store in 2011 and sold merchandise. When we migrated to Instagram, we wanted our feed to be completely ad free, however during 2015 our company experienced a few setbacks and we needed the revenue, so we began working with brands that didn’t match our ethos and we lost over 250,000 followers in one month. We then went on to work with influencers and writers and began creating successful campaigns, where one writer accumulated over 500,000 followers and sold over 50,000 books in one campaign. This inspired the launch of our digital agency.

 

How would you define being an entrepreneur?

At times it can be a singular journey; consisting of long hours, solitude, self-doubt and fear of failure, however, it is the most satisfying experience that forces you to grow and allows you to make a living from your creativity, whilst witnessing your dreams flourishing.

 

What does The Good Quote have in store for us over the next 12 months?

Increasing the reach of our brand globally and the release of our app!