So You Want to Start a Footwear Brand?.... 10 Tips to Get You Going.


Full-service strategic, design is kinda our thing. So it comes as no surprise that we get a lot of inquires from Start Ups.

In fact, over the 11 years we've been in business, we've probably worked on more projects that involve start-up brands than anything else. At the same time, I can confidently say that probably 9.5 out of 10 project inquiries from Start Ups go nowhere.


Our integrated approach brand positioning to identity design, product design, development, graphics, packaging and marketing works great for Start Ups.... IF you are ready to get going!

Here's 10 Tips to take into consideration before you send us that first email -

1. Know the process. Have a look around our website and Work. Download our Studio & Services Guide. There's lots of information about how we work, what services we offer and what we can (and can't) do. If you are familiar with how the footwear design and development process works, getting going is much easier.

2. Be prepared. To get information you have to give information. With your inquiry, we suggest you send us as much information as possible to help determine if we can help and/or if it's a project we want to get involved with. A simple checklist includes information about-

  • Drawings, or sketches (if any) of the design direction
  • Financial Plan and budgets
  • Any patent or IP info
  • Suppliers
  • Schedule
  • Status

3. Know your business. Anyone can come up with ideas. If you plan on starting a brand and making a business out of it, you should have a Business Plan that outlines how you plan to take your idea to market. We can help dial in specifics and build brands from the ground up, but you should have an idea of What you want to sell, Who you are selling to, How you are going to make money and How much you are going to need to spend to make and sell you product.



4. Understand how we work. As a full service consultancy we specialize in everything from start to finish-

  • Strategy & Branding
  • Design & Development
  • Graphics & Marketing

The way we work means that you- the Start Up, benefit from the synergy of an integrated process. It also means we are more likely to take on your project the more we can be involved. If you are just looking for a few drawings for your patent, that's not something we would get involved with. Most Start Up projects involve at least 4 of the 6 services above.

5. Know "What You Know, and What You Don't Know". You may be early stage and have a lot of unknowns but you should have a pretty good handle on what information or deliverables you need to move forward. If you are making an inquiry, be as specific as possible. Asking "do you make shoes" isn't that helpful. Are you looking for design? Development? A supplier? We can help determine the exact nature of work that may be required, but it helps if you know somewhat what you are looking for.

6. Do your research. Does your idea exist already? You'd be surprised how often we get "great new ideas" that aren't really new at all....



7. Have your partners ready. We do a lot, but not everything. If you are looking to jump into development and sampling, you will need to bring your own supplier. Sourcing is not something we offer for Start Ups due to the risk to both Start Up and Supplier. We can help evaluate a nominated supplier and provide a Sourcing Overview document to solicit potential factories, but you need to find them. That also goes for financial partners, investment services, legal, etc.

8. Respect our time. As professionals, we are happy to take and respond to most inquiries without charging assessment fees, but we typically try to keep the exchange pretty brief. If we can't determine what you are looking for and how we might be able to help from a few emails, we aren't going to take a 30 minute call just to chat.

9. Be ready to talk money. Starting a footwear brand takes money. Lots of it. Depending on the brand, type of footwear and process, it can easily take $500-800,000USD or more to go from concept to production including branding, design, development, production and marketing. This is not all needed at once, and is more than just our fees but have these numbers in mind and an idea where the capital investment will come from if you are at seed investor stage and looking to move forward.


10. Be realistic. Be early. The earlier you come to us, the better (as long as you are prepared - see above). But being realistic in your timing and expectations is key. No, we aren't able to build a brand, design some shoes and production finished in 3 months. The typical lead-time from Brand Development to On The Shelf for a Start Up is anywhere from 1-2 years. Before we start designing any product, we insist on having a solid foundation in place. This means brand and product strategy, design briefs, research and positioning.


For lots more info, be sure to read our FAQ documents-

FAQ - The Directive Collective

What we do, how we do it, and who we do it for.

FAQ - Entrepreneur Concept - "I Want to Start a Footwear Brand - Now What?"

So you want to start a footwear brand...


If you have a Start Up and are looking to get going working with The Directive Collective, please feel free to reach out.