What was Jodie Fox’s Biggest Learning in 2016?

Jodie Fox, co-founder and chief creative officer of successful online retailer Shoes of Prey talks about her biggest learnings in 2016, what she believes has been the key to her company’s success and what keeps her inspired.

I caught up with Jodie Fox in New York last week. In a candid interview, Jodie mentioned her biggest learning in 2016 was not what most would imagine.

In 2016 the company announced the closure of its physical studios at David Jones flagship store in Sydney and all its outlets in US department store Nordstrom. “The thing is that it takes courage and it takes a lot of faith and belief in the numbers and what you’re seeing and what you believe in it as a business.” Fox says that the decision lay in the metrics, with 25 percent of Shoes of Prey’s cost base in-store, yet its physical presence yielding 15 percent of the company’s profits. “So if you want to look at it from a numbers point of view, the line share of opportunity, and where we know our customers are, as they come on that growth with us, and maturity with us, is online.”

Despite this, Jodie says her biggest learning of 2016 came after the brand secured its major capital investment at the end of 2015, led by BlueSky Venture Capital, with Greycroft and Nordstrom coming on board as new equity partners. Here’s some of what Jodie says she’s learnt, and what she believes has made the Shoes of Prey brand so successful, not just within Australia, but as pioneer in the mass customisation space globally.

What has been your biggest learning in 2016?

It’s interesting. Just taking on the $15.5 million (capital) in December 2015, it really was in hindsight was the moment that we went from MVP (minimal viable product) to real company mode. I know it sounds crazy because we’re seven years old really should have stopped being in MVP mode, but the truth of the matter is that, that was point when we had to literally grow up and put proper systems and processes in place for a lot of the parts of our business that before, we had been extremely scrappy about. So I think the biggest learning has been about how important all those background things are, as well as the customisation part of what we do. That was a very important learning for me. Does surfing count at all? (she laughs)

What are some of the key things you have applied over the last 7 years that you think has attributed to Shoes of Prey’s success thus far?

Not being scared to try. One of the big things that I talk about a lot on my YouTube channel is “do everything before you’re ready”. And I think that, particularly with the generation that precedes us and that raised us, we have a predisposition to wanting to make sure that we know exactly how everything is going to work, before we really give it a shot. Now we’re in a world where we operate in the now, where everything moves so quickly, especially with online. I know that sounds like an old fashioned thing to say, but truly I think that testing is the way to start.

Also, it took me a bit of time to realise that I’m just one person and that I do need other people. I know I stand on the shoulders of some of the most extraordinary group of people at Shoes of Prey.

What does your morning and/or daily routine look like?

I’m up at 4:30 am every morning. I start my day with a glass of warm water and lemon and then I do Crossfit from 5 to 6 am. If I’m not doing that, I’ll get up later at 6:30 am, warm water and lemon and then I’ll go for a surf. I live pretty close to the beach and not far from our office, which is in Santa Monica in California, Los Angeles. So I get on my bike and ride down to the beach for a surf if I’m not doing CrossFit. I’ll make some scrambled eggs for breakfast and a cup of tea and I’ll hit the office after that and get on with my day.

My day at work tends to be pretty varied. What I usually do is I block out my whole day in terms of scheduling all my tasks into my diary, so that I’m really clear on what I need to get done, and make sure that I actually put time aside to do it. I’ll schedule to go through emails. I have a lot of meetings to get through as well, which can be anything from speaking briefings, to going through our communications work, looking at our marketing strategy, looking at the metrics for the business to what the future of the website will look like to even planning a Christmas party. We also have a culture committee and I’m involved in the HR and culture of the company as well.

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Being chief creative officer of one of Australia’s most successful start ups and being so respected in the industry, tell me, what do you do to stay creative in the online retail space?

I have to say that I absolutely love my job! I can’t really think of anything else I’d prefer to be doing. My job is to create the conceptual aesthetic direction of the company, and my team, who are truly extraordinary, come together and deliver on what the deliverables are on that, which is amazing.

What keeps me inspired is travelling for pleasure. I do a lot of travel for business which can sometimes be a bit wearing. And it’s not that I’m ungrateful – I feel very lucky that I get to travel so much, but travelling for pleasure is just such a different thing. I’m half Italian and I get a huge amount of inspiration, that’s probably a bit sentimental, from Italy, so I’ve been there a few times this year and I’ve found that enormously inspiring.

jodie fox shoes of prey italy

People talk about the “light in Paris”. It’s amazing when you go to a different part of the world and how the light is different. When I’m in Australia I feel like everything is in hyper colour, like it’s saturated light and so beautiful. And when I’m in Italy I feel like everything is this shade of almost slightly yellow. And the colour palettes you see as well – the rooftops in Italy, you see these terracotta colours and these amazing yellows again, and oranges and forest greens that are the dominant colours that come through, and we’ve definitely started to push that through in the palette of colours that we (at Shoes of Prey) are offering, and the materials as well, so that’s directly connected to that inspiration.

And seeing my nona, my mother, my family… I do love the family relationships that come from the Italian culture. So I guess that Italy creatively influences us in an aesthetic way but also in terms of the values of the company.

I’ve also realised just how important it is to stop, because when you stop, your brain processes and when we have the luxury to do that with our time – it’s something that’s super important for the creative process.

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