Shoe Rehab Helps You Walk with Flair and Style. Throw in passion, innovation, exquisite workmanship and shoe-repair mastery and you’ve got Shoe Rehab – not your typical shoe repair company.
The company is the brainchild of Mandisa Morrison who has changed the status quo for shoe repair and restoration in Saint Lucia. She spoke to Dazzle Magazine about her business ventures and the challenges she has faced as a young entrepreneur.
Dazzle: Please share your story with us.
Mandisa: I own and operate Shoe Rehab, a shoe repair business that was launched in June 2013. The concept for the business blossomed when I realized that there was no outlet in the north for anyone who needed shoe repairs. People used roadside repair stalls in Castries but the standard was not of the highest level. I did some market research and discovered there is a demand for a better service, so I opened my first store.
Dazzle: What products and services do you currently offer?
Mandisa: We offer a range of services, including sole enhancements, shoe covering, shoe stretching, and heel repairs for both gentlemen and ladies. We also offer a customized service to customers looking for the right fit from their shoes. In addition, we provide a range of products for the cleaning, conditioning and basic maintenance of footwear. We also offer Sole Tagging – a service provided exclusively by Shoe Rehab. It involves custom prints for the outer soles of your shoes, especially for ladies who want to add a little fun and drama to their shoe heels. Additionally, we can personalise by adding coloured heels.
Dazzle: Where is your business located and what made you choose your current location?
Mandisa: We are located at the Rodney Bay Mall. One of the things I discovered from my market research is that although there’s a high demand for shoe repair services among shoe lovers from the higher income groups in the north, they would have their shoe repairs done when they travelled overseas rather than use the services available locally. When a suitable opening became available, I immediately seized the opportunity to provide the service. I recently expanded with a second store at the Gablewoods Shopping Mall.
Dazzle: What challenges do you face as a young entrepreneur?
Mandisa: (Sighs) Financing is the biggest. I think that there are absolutely no outlets for young entrepreneurs in need of financing. Shoe Rehab was started using my savings. Although it has been quite a challenge, I’ve been able to stay afloat by persevering. Staffing is another challenge. We provide a niche service so the skills are not readily available. My wish is that Shoe Rehab could change the perception of the shoe repair and restoration business so that young people and the public can see this as an employment option.
Dazzle: What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learnt regarding your work?
Mandisa: Believing in myself. In the past, I would go along with other people’s opinions, especially if I thought they were more experienced than me. It took a while but I have learned to trust my instincts and rely on my knowledge of the market and my customers’ needs.
Dazzle: To what do you attribute your success?
Mandisa: Firstly, because of my God. Every day I seek His guidance to keep me going and to spark my creativity. I couldn’t have done this alone. Shoe Rehab also benefited immensely from our sponsorship of the 2015 Miss Gros Islet Carnival Queen Pageant. Our sponsored delegate won the crown and this instantly put us in the spotlight. The brand also got positive PR when we undertook a Back-to-School charitable initiative. Also, my present team – their commitment and dedication and passion for the art keeps me steadfast in building this business.
Dazzle: What is unique about Shoe Rehab and why should consumers patronise your business?
Mandisa: We put an interesting spin on shoe repair and restoration. We don’t just concentrate on repairs. We get you to fall in love with your shoes all over again. We also educate our customers on selecting the most appropriate footwear. For example, we see a number of people with flat soles and fallen arches who wear shoes that make the problem worse. In such cases, we do upcycling by adjusting the inner soles of the shoes to provide more support and comfort. We’re a very modern brand with a strong focus on providing an exceptional customer experience and satisfaction to our customers. At times, we also deliver.
Dazzle: What has been your most effective marketing technique?
Mandisa: We link our operations to our social media platforms. We use Facebook and Instagram regularly to enlighten customers on our services and useful shoe maintenance tips.
Dazzle: Where do you see Shoe Rehab in the near future?
Mandisa: Our product and service offerings will be more diverse, especially with personalizing and customizing footwear. I also plan to open other outlets in different parts of St. Lucia.
Dazzle: What advice would you give to a start-up company?
Mandisa: Do your market research and have a sound, detailed business plan. Many people don’t think this is important but a business plan really is the guide and mold for your business. You also need to have a source of motivation because the voice of naysayers can be very loud at times.