Iris is the founder of Solely Original, an online bespoke women's footwear brand. I invited Iris on YHP to share her entrepreneurial journey with us and most importantly, advices since starting Solely Original.
Tell me about the early days, the type of challenges you initially encountered?
Being a founder requires many skills, especially when we had limited budget so I had many hats on: these ranged from managing customer service, being an accountant, marketer, project manager for web optimisation and the production manager. Being able to follow & manage all the parts happening at once was definitely a challenge!
What is your company? And what are you trying to solve with it?
Solely Original is an online bespoke shoe brand. It’s developed a 3D designer website so that people are able to design their own shoes, with an option to have their shoes made to fit using its remote fitting technology.
Solely original empowers women to design their own tailored made shoes for every occasion, from everyday life to your wedding. You don’t have to sacrifice style over comfort, and the service is accessible both financially and geographically.
How have you been able to fund it so far?
To start, we were funded through family and friends, then we raised a round of equity through crowdfunding.
What advice would you give to entrepreneurs looking to raise funds for their start-ups?
Fundraising is almost equivalent to having a full-time job, it takes a lot of time and energy. So don’t do it unless you feel it’s strategically worth it and you can afford to not focus on running the day to day business for a while.
About the first few months, how excited were you, tell us about how those months felt, what happened?
We had a lot of technical problems with our first version of the website, so we actually felt very disheartened at the beginning when we received customer complaints about the bugs.
How did you initially get traction?
We launched our website, then on the same day we had a customer who found us and placed an order.
Why did you choose to join the Plexiglass programme and what have you got out of it so far?
The Plexiglass cohort programme provides amazing support and network! I had the opportunity to fill in some of my skill gaps for what’s needed to run a successful business and I’ve met some amazing people along the way too.
What are the most crucial things that you have done to grow your business?
Putting myself out of my comfort zone. Regardless if it’s cold calling suppliers or speaking on stage to an audience of a thousand, I would push myself forward as long as it’s something good for the business.
What would you say has been the highlight of your entrepreneurial journey so far?
It has to be the constant challenges and learning on this journey. I enjoy meeting new people and learning something new every day, it’s a very dynamic environment and it never stops to inspire me!
What should we be expecting from yourself and your team for the rest of 2018?
We’re looking to grow a Solely Original shoe community, so will be providing more tips about design trend, foot care as well as fitting advice. Make sure you subscribe to our blogs.
Lastly, what three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Being an entrepreneur is tough, so make sure you are really ready and prepared for it!
Running a startup is not about stopping problems from happening, it’s about resolving problems when they happen.
Don’t get bogged down when situation occurs, learn how to pick yourself up again.