Do you sit in shoe shops scrunching your toes into too small shoes and wincing in pain? Look no further, help is at hand.
When it comes to shopping for shoes many women are left feeling more ugly step-sister than Cinderella as pair after pair fails to fit their feet. Carol Haffke knows this feeling all too well. The memory of crying on the day of her high school formal because she hated the only pair of shoes that fit her size 12 feet propelled the Morningside entrepreneur to open her own shoe boutique. Here, the owner of The Shoe Garden, Brisbane’s only store catering exclusively to women who wear size 10 and larger shoes, tells about her business adventure.
“It took me about four hours to decide to open The Shoe Garden but, from another perspective, it also took me more than 30 years! In November 2011, after nearly 10 years in fundraising, journalism and PR, I woke up physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted after a major event. I needed a change and it took me just a few hours to realise what I really wanted to do – leave my established career, take a risk and open my own size 10 and up women’s shoe shop. So I resigned, sold my townhouse and rented it back, then I began using my own capital to create The Shoe Garden.
“The motto of the Shoe Garden is that no nanna or comfort shoes are allowed! When sourcing all my shoes I have two criteria: they have to be available up to at least size 12, if not larger, and they have to be gorgeous. I have so many different women visiting the shop, girls in primary school and ladies in their 80s. The only thing they have in common is long feet but they all find shoes they love here.
“As a vegetarian for more than 25 years, I’m also pleased to sell shoes that don’t use animal products. I have chosen to call these ‘animal-friendly’ shoes and there is a separate area to search for them and some bags. My nine-year-old Maltese ‘CC’ joins me at The Shoe Garden each day, usually sitting on top of my desk, snoozing or being adored by customers who greet her first when they come in the door.
“In the future I am looking forward to turning The Shoe Garden into a not-just-for-profit business that gives grassroots assistance to women in Africa. I truly believe that if you support and empower women, you support and empower the entire community.”
Find The Shoe Garden at Shop 1, 115 Riding Road, Hawthorne or buy online