Bared – a revolution in footwear
At Upwell, we love a daring entrepreneur. We sat down with Melbourne podiatrist turned shoe designer, Anna Baird, to talk to her about her successful shoe company, Bared, and some of the life lessons that came with starting her own business.
Tell us about your business, Anna….
When did you start Bared?
It was nearly 10 years ago now… wow, time flies!
Where did the idea for Bared come from?
I found that there was a gap in the market for shoes that I could recommend as a podiatrist, that I would actually want to wear myself.
Do you have / who has been your business mentor?
I have had lots of amazing people give me advice over the years. Learning from other people’s mistakes hopefully means that you will make less of them yourself.
Congratulations on the recent opening of your new city store! What made you decide to expand?
We wanted to market more to men and expand that range, and also make it easier for people working in the CBD, or travelling to Melbourne. We were also overflowing at our Armadale store so really needed a second store.
How many staff does Bared employ?
We now employ 40 people. 20 full time and 20 casual/part time.
Are there plans for further expansion?
I don’t have any plans to open more stores at this stage. Our online business is a huge part of our company, and that this is where we are focusing for future growth.
What sacrifices have you had to make for your business?
Plenty in the early days. We had the sell our house and put everything on the line. The first five years where nothing but hard slog in a business that lost money.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Trying to keep the business alive in the first five years!
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from starting your own business?
I now understand why most new businesses fail. It is really hard to start a business. You need to be able to keep your faith in it and keep finding ways to move forward and improve your offering and products.
Now, to your beautiful shoes….
Do you design yourself?
I do have input into every single shoe design, but it is now a team effort. Everyone in the business is involved in the process at some stage.
Where are they made?
We manufactured in Australia for the first four years of the business but then moved the manufacturing to China five years ago. China has the most amazing craftspeople, and has really allowed us to design and create the shoes we want to.
How important is ethical manufacturing to you?
Very. I travel to China once or twice a year and work very closely with both of our factories. The wages, hours, training and conditions for all the staff in China are all very transparent and fair.
What is your favourite style and why?
I love our Rooster double monk style shoe in white. I think that everyone gets sick of seeing me in the same shoe but I love them and they go with my entire wardrobe.
And finally, a little bit about you…
Why did you choose podiatry?
I had just finished a science degree at Melbourne University and I didn’t really want to go out and get a ‘real job’. I wanted a job that could have flexible hours, and so I chose Podiatry.
How important is it to look after your feet?
Let’s face it, one ever wants to ever have to even think about their feet. Really, your feet shouldn’t need a lot of “looking after” if you are good to them and wear the right shoes.
How did you cross over from healthcare to design?
I have always been obsessed with fashion. I learnt about design the hard way, as I went along. Nine years later, I now know a bit about design!
Where do you get your incredible work ethic from?
I like to be busy. I get stressed out if I am not feeling stressed out! I have been like this my whole life, but I guess it works for me.
What do you love most about your job?
I love inspiring my team to look after people. This is what Bared does best, and I have the most amazing team of people behind me.
One in five Australians suffer foot pain and Podiatrists are the foot health experts. They help children, athletes, the chronically ill and older Australians live their best life with healthy feet.