Above: Stacey Head, Founder & Managing Director, she wear
A rusty nail through the foot inspired Stacey Head, Founder and Managing Director of she wear to start her company. Stacey launched she wear in 2013, with her first range of comfortable, well fitting boots designed specifically for women. Her growth has been phenomenal, with she wear now Australia’s largest supplier of safety footwear, workwear and PPE for women. The business also trades internationally, and has plans to continue to expand globally.
Stacey was named 2018 Global Innovation Award Winner by Women2Watch in Business Disruption and 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year in the Australian Small Business Champion Awards.
Tell us why you started designing your own line of safety footwear for women.
I had a career in operational management within the travel industry and after many years within the travel/aviation industry, I needed a “sea change”. I then spent 6 years “flipping” properties and was extremely hands on in all aspects, particularly the physical side of the renovations (such as tiling, carpentry, rendering, bricking, landscaping, painting etc). On one of my builds, I had an unfortunate incident where I stood on a nail in totally inappropriate footwear.
After that incident, I realised I needed to wear suitable footwear. I searched far and wide for a pair of decent women’s work boots and was astounded at the lack of choice for women. Safety boots in Australia were heavy, men’s design and/or ill fitting. So I imported a pair of women’s work boots and the quality was extremely disappointing and fell apart in no time. I couldn’t believe the gap in the market and that the major industry market leaders didn’t feel women were a focus. So I decided to do something about it!
she wear boots have been seen on TV shows like The Block, Selling Houses Australia and have an international following. What makes she wear unique and so widely popular with women?
We are the only female founded and led Australian safety footwear company and we are also the only company manufacturing and retailing safety footwear just for women. Our competitors are all large companies who focus on the men’s market and don’t see women as a priority. We design our footwear around feedback and comments from our customers and we focus on the comfort and fit specifically for women.
We’ve designed and manufacture one of the lightest safety boots on the market. That was produced around hard working women wanting a lightweight, comfortable boot, especially when on their feet all day. We also don’t believe in selling just our brand product. she wear have a strong ethic and believe in empowering girls and young women to fulfil their aspirations and disregard what is considered the norm or tradition. We love telling our customer’s stories and believe motivating and inspiring women is just as important as our products.
How have you grown the business to be Australia’s largest supplier of safety footwear, workwear and PPE for women?
What started out purely as a boot strapped, home based start up with just 2 footwear styles has now grown into a full one stop workwear and footwear company for women. Our growth has been quite organic as we heard customer’s complain about ill fitting, heavy footwear and ill fitting, unsafe workwear.
she wear now manufacture and retail 7 safety footwear styles in 10 colours, 3 fashion leather boot options, 5 gum boot styles, a collection of socks, boots for kids and we retail a full range of workwear and PPE all designed specifically for women. We have the ethos we will not stock unisex clothing. Everything in our online and bricks and mortar store is designed specifically to fit women.
How did you navigate the transition from domestic sales to exporting?
We’ve been exporting our products for quite a few years now and the transition was easy. We have our most popular international destinations set up on our website and customers from all over the world can automatically purchase and receive their order within 1 week. Social media certainly assists in spreading the message to all corners of the world! It is definitely a growth focus for us.
Your greatest challenge?
As a small business in an extremely competitive industry, we have so many challenges! Growth, costs, competition and brand awareness would be our greatest challenges. Being a small business in an industry dominated by large multi national companies can be very overwhelming.
What are you most proud of?
I would say our product and the positive feedback and comments we receive from our customers. It is so incredibly important to us to have women comfortable and to hear stories of women absolutely loving their she wears. Taking time out of their busy days to contact us to give us that feedback means so much. We have great engagement with our customer base on our social media and that’s very satisfying. It makes all the hard work worth it!
Advice for future female leaders?
With risk comes reward and it’s personally and professionally satisfying when a thought or idea becomes a reality. Do your research and due diligence but ensure to trust your gut instincts. If it feels right and the figures stack up, go for it! Small business is hard work. It takes perseverance, resilience and dedication. Be true to yourself and ignore the naysayers. Never ever copy. Be innovative and be different. Enjoy the ride, and what a ride it will be!
Hear Stacey Head speak at Online Retailer Conference & Expo 2019! Subscribe for updates now.