Brisbane-based husband and wife Alan and Caroline McCulloch have run their shoe retail operation for a number of years, as part of their podiatry practice.
But it wasn’t until last year that the McCullochs realised there was a gap in the market for a brand of comfort footwear that didn’t look hideous.
Plenty of experiments with cut-up shoes later, Frankie4 was born. Alan McCulloch explains how the business is looking to keep in step with changing consumer demands.
So, you already stock your own brand, don’t you?
Yes, that’s right. I’ve been a podiatrist for the past 20 years and sell shoes as part of the practice I run.
We stock a number of brands in our two retail stores and we’ve had a trial of the Frankie4 shoes and we now want to go to a broader market.
At the moment, Frankie4 sits with the major comfort brands in our stores. The feedback has been great so far and we’ve realised that we could do it a lot better than some of the other brands out there.
Why does the market need Frankie4?
There’s a massive hole in the market for comfort footwear that’s attractive. There’s not a lot of choice in the specialised footwear market and it doesn’t really appeal to the general population.
As a podiatrist, I’d spent a lot of time recommending certain footwear to people, but it made them feel unattractive. There wasn’t really a fashion element to a lot of the brands. They are pretty ugly.
How did the idea come about?
It hit us between the eyes after getting feedback from patients who stated their unhappiness with what was out there on the market.
I spend a lot of time fiddling around with shoes and I came to the realisation that we could do better and that it wouldn’t be a huge challenge us for us to do it.
How long has it taken you?
We had a six-month lead-up to production and we’ve spent the last eight months trialling the product. We currently have three styles and we’re about to move that up to five.
Interesting business name you’ve gone for there…
Yes! Caroline, who is the major designer of the shoes, has a terrier called Frankie. We felt that the name could span across different segments, such as Frankie4 Nurses or Frankie4 Businesspeople, or whatever.
We do casual ballet flats and other standard shoes that the average punter will say, “I’d wear that.” There’s a lot of corporate people who want to jog to work and look good, for example.