Working in an area you’re passionate about is arguably the best thing about running your own business, something that Lizze Leary happily testifies to.
Lizze is the co-founder of Kindred Sole, an online women’s shoe boutique which offers customers a plethora of shoes; designed by both renowned and up-and-coming designers.
A student of Fashion Buying at Leicester’s De Montfort University, Lizze became the recent recipient of the Leicestershire Young Business Executive of the Year Award; an accolade sponsored and presented by the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity.
Coincidentally, through Lizze’s business partner and fellow co-founder Beth Widdowson, the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity delivered an interest-free business loan to help start Kindred Sole.
“I knew I always wanted to have my own business rather than buy for another retailer,” said Lizze when discussing the business’ roots.
“I always loved shoes and many of my earliest memories are of shoes; one includes swapping shoes with a best friend in infant school and ending up in the head teacher’s office as I was supposed to be in class – all in the name of research!
“Whilst at university the recession was about to hit but research showed the boom in online retail,” Lizze continued.
“I attended exhibitions and developed relationships with footwear designers, had the website built whilst at university and it launched in October 2009.”
With many university graduates exploring entrepreneurial concepts following graduation, Lizze is perfectly placed to offer advice to anybody looking to make their business ideas a reality and sums her advice up in one word – research.
“Research your target market, product or service and how best to deliver it,” she said.
“Prove to yourself that you have a viable business idea. When you know you have, you can convince people that you have one too. Be careful whose advice you listen to and get a support group around you who will tell you the truth.
“In the early days of Kindred Sole I had to raise money in order to purchase the first collection of shoes. I was told things from ‘the bank will never give you a business loan’, ‘we are in a recession and you are straight out of university’ to ‘nobody will buy shoes online’.
“Two months after graduating, Kindred Sole received a business bank loan and four years later we are still selling shoes online and growing.”
Delighted to win the 2013 Leicestershire Young Business Executive of the Year accolade, Lizze takes great pride in being acknowledged in the city where Kindred Sole was founded.
“I am very proud of receiving this award,” Lizze admitted.
“It’s extra special that it was given in the city where Kindred Sole began. It’s been a great way to introduce Kindred Sole to people that may have not shopped with us before and for them to see our company ethos. Our Twitter feed went crazy with people saying congratulations, which was lovely!”
To find out more about Kindred Sole – and to take a look at their collection, visit www.kindredsole.com