2011 reviewed by insiders Nicole Yee, Associate Children’s Editor – Stylesight (USA), Molly Price, Founder of Molly Meg and children’s wear design manager (UK), Corina Papadopoulo, Founder of children’s store and online store Kidsen (UK), Shiva Shabani & Calvin Yu, founders of Sons+Daughters Eyewear (USA).
I was very happy to discover Life and soles, an e-store that focuses on simple and well designed shoes. Based in Vancouver, Canada, Life and soles was founded by Laura Falconer and launched only a few months ago.
Laura tells us more about her love for shoes and other things…
When did you start your e-store?
We went live for business in July 2011
How did the idea of the e-store come to you?
I’ve always loved shoes and as my daughter began to walk I began hunting for quality, unique, great looking footwear for her. Pretty quickly I learned that shopping with a toddler isn’t easy and I’ve always been a keen online shopper so I headed to the web. I noticed there was an absence of a one-stop-shop for kids footwear, lots of stores do clothes and shoes but it was hard to find any that focused solely on great shoes. I’ve been a graphic/web designer for 11 years so it seemed like a simple solution to set up my own store!
What brands do you carry ?
We carry: Converse, Native Shoes, Livie & Luca, Havaianas, Keep, Salt Water Sandals, Hunter Boots, BabyLegs warmers and socks, Fore!! Axel & Hudson hats. I love all of the brands we carry because I’m passionate about good shoes and good design so I make sure only to stock brands that I would be happy for my own daughter to wear. Native and Keep have been very successful which I think is due to their well-made, unique and simple design. They’re also both companies that care about the ethics of how their footwear is made. I have a particular soft spot for Native because they’re a Vancouver based brand! The BabyLegs leg warmers have also been selling well, they’re such a useful item that looks adorable.
What children’s trade shows do you visit?
None so far! I’ve focused primarily on trade shows featuring the footwear I hope to stock such as KnowShow and The Vancouver Shoe Show. Now that we’re up and running I’ll be planning visits to children’s trade shows.
Where are your customers from?
Right now we’re 60% Canada, 30% US and the rest of our sales coming from the UK/Europe. Our marketing push at the moment is to expand our reach to the UK, Europe and Australia.
Is the business how you were expecting it?
It’s actually better than I expected! I work 4 days a week as a graphic designer, raise my two year old daughter and run the business in the time that’s left. I was very concerned that the work involved would be too much. Fortunately my husband is also a graphic designer and works in an advertising firm so he’s great at helping out (he built the face of the online store) and is a good sounding board for ideas. Sometimes it’s hard to juggle everything and I get frustrated because I have so many plans for the store and so little time but I love Life & Soles and find it very satisfying to strive to make the shop the best that it can be and offer a great service. I’ve learned so many new things and I’ve found it fun to face a completely new challenge. Plus I adore shoes, every time new stock arrives I’m in heaven!
What shoes were you wearing when you were little? Any brand or particular trend that stayed with you?
Laura and her daughter on the beach…
What would you say about the general economical climate in your country?
Canada didn’t seem as badly affected as some countries by the recession and Vancouver in particular seems to have continued to thrive.
What are your favorite cities in the world and why?
Vancouver because it’s been my home for 8 years now and it’s a beautiful place to live. Edinburgh because my husband and I are Scottish born and bred and we met while both attending University in Edinburgh, we lived there for 10 years before moving to Vancouver. Perth in Western Australia because my family emigrated there some years ago, I see it as a second home. In Perth I love the heat and how massive and blue the skies there are.
Have you seen interesting/new children’s stores that you liked recently?
I recently came across Cool Kids NYC online and think it’s great: www.coolkidsnyc.com
What is your favorite children’s store in your own city?
Dandelion Kids on Commercial Drive. It’s in my neighbourhood and they stock beautiful products.
Your favorite online destinations, related to children?
A friend recently pointed me to the Oh Joy! Baby blog and I’m addicted (ohjoy.blogs.com) I also like to think that some day I’ll have the time to get my sewing machine out and follow some of the amazing online tutorials for kids clothes : www.craftinessisnotoptional.com and www.prudentbaby.com