The Hand Dyed Shoe Guy
Since he spoke at our Newcastle lunch in June 2018, we’ve been following the story of Simon Bourne, the creative genius behind The Hand Dyed Shoe Company. Our guests at Wynyard Hall were enthralled throughout his tale and were full of questions. But what has he been up to since we last met?
Just 18 months after leaving the safety, security and longevity of a retail management career, Simon’s dynamic and inspiring personality has seen his business create 822 pairs of shoes for 795 orders and be part of 116 weddings in the past year alone.
An astonishing 1 in 5 orders comes from a repeat customer or a referral – a statistic Simon is particularly proud of.
“We’ve been part of so many special days and helped to create some amazing memories, but what’s really important is the relationships we build with our customers, and the relationships they build with our brand.
“Having so many people come back to us, or step through our threshold from a referral, is an honour as it demonstrates that they don’t just value the product we create, but the experience we provide.”
That experience – private consultations at the studio ‘off the beaten track’ on the Ushaw estate, just outside Durham – begins with a drinks menu and a fitting before the fun of choosing colours, shapes, styles, finishes and personalisation such as initials or names being embossed into the hand dyed leather.
And the experience doesn’t have to just last the hour or so of the consultation; thinking of his far-flung customers, Simon had the foresight to create a shoe-themed haven on the same estate as his studio and offer ‘Shoes and Snooze’ within a luxury apartment, where guests can relax, stay overnight and enjoy the charms the North East has to offer.
Building his brand around him and his values, Simon walks a mile (figuratively) in the shoes of his peers and has been known to make gifts of the fancy footwear to those who have touched his life in some way, such as his English teacher and the friendly lollipop man who sees his daughter safely to school each day.
With a North East Business Award and the accolade of Klarna’s Smooothest Store under his belt in the past year alone, we can’t help but wonder what other achievements are in store for Simon and his small but growing team in the next twelve months.
Jesmond Dene House
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