Tell us a bit about your journey to getting where you are today?
Dukes started on holiday! I always go to the same place in Spain on holiday and I discovered these incredible handmade boots that you can’t get here in the UK, especially for an affordable price. My list of boots to bring back every summer for friends and family grew and so I decided to start Dukes and it has all escalated from there!
What has been your highlight since launching the brand?
The highlight for me so far is being nominated for a Draper’s Footwear award for Best New Business – we don’t know who the winner is yet, but even being nominated is a huge achievement for us as Draper’s is such a prestigious organisation for the British Fashion industry. Fingers crossed!
Clearly you are very creative, what do you do when inspiration is lacking?
Take a day off! If I’m struggling to come up with inspiration for a new design or a new website feature for example, I do not see the point in sitting there forcing myself to come up with something. Generally, I will take a day off and get out of the office and normally find that does the trick! That and coffee. I also bounce a lot of ideas off of my friends and family so that my designs aren’t quite so single minded.
Tell us what a typical day in your life looks like?
Every day for me is entirely different which is what I love about Dukes.
Generally, I won’t start work until 10am which is when I am normally glued to my computer replying to emails etc. I always stop and walk my dogs in the afternoon to get some fresh air for a bit, after which I return home and work most of the evening. I am not a morning person and so try and work later hours but I do love what I do and so working in the evenings I enjoy! Weekends are fairly similar at the moment, but I always try and take Sunday off if I can. I like to be involved in every part of my business, from the website design through to product design, photo shoots and communicating with our customers.
It can be hard to juggle life as a #Girlboss and your social life, what do you do to get the balance right?
To be honest, I don’t think I have this part sorted at all yet! The balance is very much weighty on the work side, but I enjoy it and I know it will all be worth it in the end! When I see results from Dukes, for example our Drapers nomination, it just spurs me on to work harder and do more but this normally means more time working.
Who/what inspires you?
I am inspired by all things British, especially in fashion. I am also inspired by my father – he is so supportive of everything I do and gives me the drive to be successful in my own right.
What is your best selling product?
Our best selling product is our classic Alba Chelsea boot – this is a tan, suede boot with brown elastic and so goes with pretty much everything. A classic boot like this doesn’t really go out of fashion which is why I think people love this boot so much.
What are your plans for the brand in 2016?
2016 is really exciting for Dukes. We have the Draper’s Award Finals in June which I cannot wait for and we have a completely new line of espadrilles arriving any day now which is also pretty exciting meaning that we can offer our customers a summer style as well as our classic Chelsea boots.
We also have some really exciting collaborations coming up in October time – 2016 is a busy year!
Did you always know that one day you would be a #Girlboss?
I did! I always knew that I wanted to do my own thing – when I went to University I quickly realised this even more, but wanted a backup just in case everything went wrong. As soon as I left I started working from home and haven’t looked back since and it has been incredibly rewarding.
If there was one #Girlboss activity you could get better at, what would it be?
The list is endless!! But I would like to be more on the ball with accounting as I am pretty useless at this and do not like relying on other people entirely for something – I like to know at least the basics of everything.
For any fashionistas looking for luxury footwear, which one product would you recommend from your range?
I would recommend our Pella boot – this is a black suede Chelsea boot in the classic shape with a bright, contrasting neon elastic. I like this boot so much as it is a traditional boot but with a more modern twist and provides a slightly edgier, up to date look from a classic boot.
For people aspiring to run their own company, what advice would you give?
100% do it! I would always discuss any ideas you have with people around you and sit down and figure out if it is a viable option or not, but I think you have to just take the risk and go for it. It was really hard at the start financially and also with the amount of hours required, but now I can’t imagine doing anything else!