“I opened in 2001 after realizing there was a need for shoes for women with larger feet,” said Teri. “I searched the globe for fashionable large sizes, but couldn’t find any, so I designed them myself. I created a line called Hot Biskits, available in sizes 3 to 16. Having a niche market is crucial for any business.”
In addition to understanding your niche market, Teri said it is imperative to have a solid business plan. “My plan also included the ability to diversify, while staying true to the original intent of the business.”
As Teri and I chatted, a gentleman from Makawao dropped in to pick up his boots that had been repaired. “We took over Testers Shoe Repair two years ago,” said Teri. “This was a big leap for me but I knew it was right. Number one, I didn’t want Maui to loose this great institution, and secondly, I knew that it was a smart business decision. Over the past year, my shoe-repair business sales have increased. I attribute this to the economy and the fact that people are deciding to get things repaired versus throwing them away and buying new. Change is scary, but to be successful, you have to be able to revamp.”
“My customers are like family. I have a customer who bought shoes for prom, then for graduation, then for her wedding. She was here recently showing me a photo of her baby. Maui County is so awesome. We are one big happy family, growing old together.”
“It is important to have mentors,” Teri added. “I look to people who are business savvy and ask for their guidance. It was intimidating at first, but I realized that people like to pass on their wisdom.”
“Support local businesses,” Teri shared. “Support local nonprofits.
“Also, take time every month to read your business plan and take care of yourself, because a healthy you equals a healthy business.”
As Teri jumped up to give customers big hugs, I saw that she walks her talk— everyone who enters If The Shoe fits is like family.