Buying and selling shoes online is a hot business trend that promises growth with brands like XTC, London Trash, and Ziggi NY. Online shoe sales are expected to continue growing at an annual rate of about 11.2 percent through 2018, according to a report from Ibisworld.com.
Entrepreneur Warneshia Wallace has added to the mix with The Shoe Box, a business that encompasses both a physical shoe store in Birmingham, Alabama and an edgy, online presence.
I visited with Warneshia in Hollywood during a shoe party she held with celebrity stylist/designer Fallon Seaborn to make new friends and kick off the opening of her online store. She’s the wife of NBA and Boston Celtics player Gerald Wallace and gained her business knowledge during six years serving the U.S. in the Air Force from 2001 to 2007.
How did you decide to start a shoe-related business?
I’ve had passion for shoes since I was a kid. Every time a new style came out, I had to have them in my room and I didn’t care about the brand. Any shoe I liked, I got it.
I retired from the Air Force and didn’t want to work for anyone, so I wanted to do something I love and I love shoes.
How did the Air Force help you develop your business knowledge?
I always wanted to open a shoe store, and in the military I was taking advantage of the free schooling. I learned about business operations and management and I graduated in 4 years.
I started The Shoe Box in 2013, I jumped in here and was hands-on and I’ve learned from mistakes along the way.
How were the business classes helpful and are you going to open a second shoe store?
Financially, it helped me learn about budgeting. I have a hard time budgeting so the advice helped me make decisions related to marketing and other expenses.
I’ll give myself 2 to 5 years before I break out and open another store. There’s a lot to learn. It seems simple and easy to do but along the way if I stumble, I’ll get back up.
Who’s your customer?
The designs are sassy, edgy, and for women who like to step out of the box.
I do have shoes for every age and style. Businesswomen and students will find something they like as well as shoppers on the edgier side.
A lot of older women will walk in the store, look at the 6-inch spikes and say, ‘I can’t wear these heels.’ I say, check out the flats.
Where do you buy shoes and do you look at new designers?
Fallon Seaborn is my personal shopper and she investigates the brands.
My advice to designers is I’m into everything. I don’t just buy for myself and I’m open to new designers. I look for different styles that are unique and hard to get.
Right now, shoppers should know [industry] prices seem stable.
Click here for the Shoebox Boutique styles and sales.