Taylor Blake - stylish ladies shoes from Cheshire
- Credit: Archant
Two friends have taken the first steps to business success, as Paul Mackenzie reports.
There’s no business like shoe business for Tracey Taylor and Emily Blake. Having left their careers to care for their young children, the two friends launched their own company making stylish ballet flats in a variety of colours and materials.
‘Emily was a footwear designer working for big manufacturing companies and I was working in marketing and ecommerce,’ Tracey said. ‘When we both had our children, Emily could no longer be flying overseas and I couldn’t be working long hours. We both decided to give up and to look after our children but after a few years we started to miss the sense of fulfilment that work brings.
‘I knew Emily had been sketching away at designs for shoes and so we went for a coffee at Libby’s in Marple Bridge and as soon as I saw the drawings I thought we had to get the shoes made.’
The two mums – they both have a boy and a girl – approached a number of factories in Spain because of the craftsmanship and heritage of shoe making there and their shoes are now handmade at a small factory near Elche in southern Spain.
But Tracey, who lives in Disley, added that the fallout of the Brexit vote may force the pair to find a factory in this country. ‘The EU referendum has changed things for us,’ she said. ‘We’ll have to speak to our suppliers but our costs have gone up because of the exchange rate. We are now looking at potential factories in the UK which could make our shoes, but we’ll have to see how things develop over the coming months.’
Things have developed well for Taylor Blake Shoes so far. Having only launched the company last year, they now have two collections and their shoes are sold online and at stores in Disley, Manchester, Heaton Moor and Marple. They are also in talks with a nationwide shoe retailer about stocking their products in shops across the country later this year. They hope that more may follow.
Emily, who lives in Romiley, used contacts she had dealt with in her previous job to source materials for the shoes, including luxurious leathers and soft suedes in a variety of contemporary colours. All the shoes are finished with a delicate bow and some have sparkling jewel details.
‘The difference between our shoes and most of the others on the market is the quality of the leather and the combination of materials,’ Tracey said. ‘You don’t generally find this level of quality on the high street.
‘We wanted women to wear them and feel they could wear them every day and not have to save them for special occasions. We want them to be worn, not hidden away in the cupboard, and it makes us so proud when we hear from people who have bought our shoes.
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‘People send us pictures of themselves wearing our shoes in all sorts of places and we love it when they do that. It’s amazing that about 40 per cent of our customers have more than one pair – one woman has four pairs.
‘We find that when people see our shoes them love them. We have four retailers in Cheshire and we’ve only been to visit five. The other didn’t want to because she doesn’t sell anything over £40. We are going to speak to shops in other parts of Cheshire so hopefully retailers in Knutsford, Alderley Edge and Altrincham will stock our shoes too.’
To find out more, go online to lovetaylorblake.com