As a mum with two kids, I know just how painful it can be to buy shoes for your little ones. Unless you’re happy to have your kids parade in sneakers, thongs or crocs day-in-day-out, the options can be limited. So, to say I was delighted to discover Millwoods shoes online, is no underestimation.
Founded by mother of three, Jane Robertson, from her family home just outside Coolamon, Millwoods is an online shoe store that sells fabulous leather loafers that not only look great but feel fantastic on your children’s feet. Stylish, tough and kid-proof, Robertson’s shoes have proved a hit with parents all over Australia.
Robertson tells Kochie’s Business Builders Millwoods was born of her frustration at being unable to find hardwearing stylish yet comfy shoes for her eldest son James.
“I just wanted a really nice pair of shoes that he could also put on himself. Shoes he can run in and be a kid in, that look good, are good for his feet, made of leather and that will last.”
It was a long wish list and Robertson soon realised she couldn’t find anything to meet her needs. Tired of dressing up her child in smart outfits only to be let down by his footwear, Robertson took matters into her own hands, designing a pair of loafers that were to become Millwoods’ signature shoe.
“I thought well, of course, the cheapest and simplest thing to do is to make your own,” she laughs.
Partnering with the local podiatrist, Robertson set about honing her design to ensure her shoes ticked all the right boxes for growing feet. Almost two years later she finally perfected her design, sourced leather and began the manufacturing process.
Six years later and thanks to the rise of eCommerce, Robertson still runs the business from her family home, the difference is she’s now built a warehouse just ten metres from her front doorstep.
“I think that’s the beautiful thing about being online and being in a rural area – you can actually create things, and you don’t have to do things on a massive scale, you can just start in a way that suits you.”
Anyone who has bought clothes or shoes online knows that fit can be a potential pitfall. To make it simple for parents to order the perfect shoe, Robertson created a sizing chart that can be printed life-size.
“Taking kids shoe shopping’s hard work, and I wanted to get rid of that pain point. I wanted to make it easy for parents. At the end of the day, all the kids have had a shower, they’re sitting in front of the TV, and they might be tired, but at that point, you stand them up, put them on the piece of paper, either measure their foot on our sizing chart or just draw on a piece of paper. And then a few days later the shoes arrive, the kids put them on, and they’re loving them. When it comes to getting the right fit, we’ve had no returns – the chart works,” she says.
Of course, to be a successful online business you have to address other customer demands too. Speed of delivery is vital in today’s world as a consumer’s appetite for express services increases. As a regional business owner Robertson says having a trusted partner is vital to her business success.
“The girls who work in my Post Office are fantastic. And they literally move heaven and earth to help me. I have very clear terms on my website as well to make it clear we are shipping from a regional area. Customers want their purchases and they want them now. It’s all about reliability and tracking these days,” she explains.
“Definitely a huge portion of my customers are regional and rurally located. So, for them, Australia Post is a trusted service as well. I haven’t ever had a package lost. It’s just reliability every time. And that’s what’s so important when you are sending product around, particularly when you’re starting from a regional outpost.”
Robertson is excited for the future prospects of Millwoods. Having cracked the local market, she is testing the waters for US expansion and she tells KBB the brand is set to launch women’s shoes in the coming weeks. Her biggest dream – to open a warehouse and distribution warehouse in nearby Wagga.
“I have grand plans,” she says. “My dream would be to open a warehouse in Wagga and have Kurrajong Waratah – they’re our disability job service provider in town – provide the staff to do all the picking and packing. I’m passionate about providing more jobs and providing purpose and passion for members of our community.”
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This article is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice for your business needs
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