Interview with Elizabeth — Founder and Innovative Designer of Elizabeth Anne Shoes

I can imagine that when people read the words “Think Like a Label”, they think record labels, and yes, Think Like a is in the business of helping musicians receive helpful, practical and intellectual insider information in regards to independent and major label music business advice. But there are many kinds of labels (we also talk to independent writers, authors and literary publishers) and there are many kinds of entrepreneurs who think outside of the box and think like their major industry cohorts. Elizabeth is thinking like a professional fashion label by being smart, creative and working to connect with a target audience of women who are down to earth, yet stylish and attracted to products of quality.

Elizabeth Anne Shoes are stylish boots that are equipped with sassy and feminine utility pockets on the inside of the boots to hold cell phones, IDs and credit cards. I thought Elizabeth had a great idea and I wanted to pick her brain about her entrepreneurial pursuit:

In this new digital era, was your transition to becoming an entrepreneur seamless or were there bumps in the road?

It’s been a rollercoaster; the kind the goes upside down and maybe even backwards once or twice. But it was possible, all thanks to the modern marvel that is Google. I was able to reach out to enough of a network that I could learn a ton and get this project started. Finding a manufacturer who was savvy enough to do the inner pockets with the precision I wanted was a big challenge. The other major obstacle was the patent process, which took two full years of research and waiting periods. You step into murky waters doing it on your own, but if you can make it, you can save thousands of dollars in lawyer’s fees.

 What inspired you to make your new product?

I was really on the lookout for a new muse to turn into a business for myself. The grind was really getting to me, and facing another 20 years in the banking industry just seemed much too depressing. Also, I had been reading Tim Ferriss’s book, The 4 Hour Workweek, at the time and was very inspired to drastically overhaul my life.

“Purse n’ Boots” (designed exclusively for Elizabeth Anne Shoes) was born one night at a bar. I’ve always been a fan of knee-highs and I used to cram them full of all my stuff (loose change, ID, makeup, and anything else that would fit). I went to get my cell phone from inside of my knee-highs that night and I had a really enthusiastic bartender lean over and get really excited. She told me she was going to do that from now on. They weren’t really allowed cell phones on the floor but she said it’s no fun going a 10 hour shift without your phone. Now she could keep in on her and no one would know!

The only challenge with this is finding your items after a night of dancing. You’d be stepping on coins and I even had a cell phone fly the coop after one particularly danceable song. I needed a way to organize things so I could find them more easily. That’s when the idea for pocketed knee-highs was born.

What made you choose the style of boots you designed? Are they based you your personal style, or by a certain type of woman you see moving about in American culture?

Definitely both. My styles have really started to lean towards more wearable shoes. Something beautiful, but not the back breaking 6 inch heels I used to wear. The walking boot in particular is my favourite. I think this one most represents the fashion trends right now. It’s a really well loved style that is SO comfortable, yet very fashionable.

Do you consider yourself a full-time artist and a part-time businesswoman, or vice versa?

I would say an equal 50/50 mixture of both. When it comes to the brain there are many varieties and mine seems to be somewhere between left brain and right brain. I find this affords me a lot of opportunities to try things on my own from both categories  Though, I have learned it’s a good idea to have a few specialists on my team. Ideally a left-brainer and a right-brainer to help with the creative aspects (style ideas) and the process orientated tasks (legal and website management).

What is your personal mission for your company?
My personal mission is to find a way to give women the opportunity to dance, travel, and shop, purse-free. It’s really about liberation… and not dumping your iPhone in the toilet when it sneaks out of your back pocket.

When it comes to marketing who is your target consumer?

My target customer is a fashion-forward lady with a love for style, and also enjoys something practical. I originally introduced this concept to the young club-going crowd but quickly realized its many other applications. Now, I have ladies from many age groups who love these boots. Purse n’ Boots are really for the women out there who want to be trendy but comfortable; there are many situations where our large, beautiful purses are too cumbersome to bother with.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?

Here, there, and everywhere. I really love to travel and I plan on seeing more of this lovely world. I started this business as a fun means to escape the “9-5,” and now I have the freedom to live anywhere. Since September, I’ve lived in Thailand, and now Hawaii, until April. I don’t plan to stop there!

From a business perspective, I would like to see Purse n’ Boots become a world-wide phenomenon within the next 5 years. Pawns are already in place for this, it’s just a matter of watching it unfold.

Have you always had a passion for fashion?

Since my early teens, fashion has really been a big deal for me. I actually remember the day I transitioned out of my orange stirrup pants into a groovy pair of dark flared jeans. Shoes in particular have always been a fascination of mine. I have a closet full of wickedly delightful shoes; most with heels way too tall to wear (but they are sure nice to look at!).

Do you have family and friends supporting your career and lifestyle change?

Absolutely! I have been blessed with an amazingly supportive group of family and friends. They are my support group and my investors! When I quit my long-term career in banking & finance to take this project on I never heard a single “huh?”. They have been in my corner ever since.

How has the change affected you personally?

I have so much more time to do the things I love (including this business). I find the drudgery of a 9-5 routine too exhausting. Eight hours a day plus 1 hour each way of commuting, plus laundry, making food, and cleaning your house leaves very little “me” time. I have a huge respect for anyone doing that with kids in the mixture. Working for myself has been unbelievably liberating. Of course it’s not without its challenges, a steady paycheck provides a certain modicum of security that entrepreneurship doesn’t. I have gotten used to it though; sometimes that means buying less shoes (sob) but I do get to work in my pajamas.

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