Fans of Auckland based shoe designer Sarah Reily will be glad to hear that she is returning to the shoe business after a two year hiatus. Chelsey finds out what she has been up to…
In 2008, shoe designer Sarah Reily was hailed as up and coming, she had three successful seasons under her belt, eight stockists in New Zealand and was acclaimed by the likes of ex-supermodel Gail Elliot and multiple media channels to be ‘extraordinary’: but after a series of bad debtors and spells of serious ill health, she stopped producing shoes.
A fine arts graduate, Reiley launched her label with the intention of creating fashion-forward designs that were different, edgy, and were an extension of her personality. “I did not know anyone in the industry when I started out, but I researched and over time have made contacts; yet I went into business somewhat naïve,” says Reily.. “Unfortunately I learned that instead, a couple companies I was working with were corrupt and had no qualms about behaving in a duplicitous way.”
It was one such company that Reily believes killed her business with one foul stroke. “After making an order worth several thousands of dollars I was left high and dry by a stockist and my business could not go forward,” she says. Reily felt alone in a David vs Goliath situation. “It was one person against a whole company that suddenly turned incredibly nasty,” she says. “The stress caused me to get very worn out and was the pretext to getting so rundown that I lost my health, my business and a mentor all at once.”
Summoning her courage, Reily made the decision to restart her business in early 2010 – albeit in a different way from before, conscious of the lessons of the past 24 months. The first thing to change is that Reily will initially sell exclusively online. “I adored being with stockists,” she says. “But starting by only selling online means I get to prove something to myself, and to potential wholesale accounts too - that if you come up against a dead end, you turn around and try another road.”
There will only be a limited amount of each design available for customers to purchase, and once stock and sizes of a certain style is gone, it is gone. “My decision to make her designs limited edition was an easy one,” says Riley. “My reasoning is, women want to feel special, they want to feel their purchase is unique and so they want to buy a pair of shoes and know that they are one of the only people wearing that style,” she says.
As an added bonus, each time a customer purchases a pair of her shoes, they are entitled to a discount on a second pair; if a second pair is purchased a third pair can be bought at an even further discounted price. “I want to reward all of my customers and show them I appreciate them!” says Riley. “I want to create designs that women feel a million dollars in.”
By Natasha Arul
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