1- Hello Bilal, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
Sure, I’m a 42-year-old male that lives in the fashion capital (New York). I am the CEO and founder of Illustrious Shoes. I have an MBA in general management with a focus in entrepreneurship. I am the oldest of five–in which the other four happen to be women–go figure! I come from a family of entrepreneurs, which is what I believe propelled me into the vision for Illustrious Shoes. I am single at the moment but happily in a relationship with Illustrious Shoes.
2- What are your focus areas and why?
My focus areas are to offer women quality shoes that are comfortable at affordable prices. This is not an easy feat to accomplish. There are many well-established brands that offer really good shoes that have a strong hold on the market. I believe that with perseverance and brand recognition, Illustrious Shoes will make a huge breakthrough in the market. The company is an online store at the moment with plans to open its flagship stores within the next two years.
3- How do you describe “Illustrious Shoes” in few words?
Illustrious Shoes is Bold, Sexy, and Attractive. What makes Illustrious Shoes unique is the feeling that it offers women. Although our primary inventory is shoes, we also sell handbags, sunglasses, and perfumes. The feeling Illustrious Shoes gives a woman cannot be replicated. Our main focus is value that offers women the feeling of being and looking “Illustrious”.
4- Where do you think you are making an impact?
It is hard to say at the moment because we just launched on November 7th of this year.
The feedback from potential customers has been great. Most women say that they love the presentation (inventory) and are ecstatic about the prices. I would love to see in a year’s time that there is a shift and momentum towards the niche market that Illustrious Shoes is creating.
5- What are some things that most people don’t know about your job?
Most people will attest that being an entrepreneur is an extremely difficult job, but you never really understand how difficult it is until you’re in the position. Maintaining your vision and company integrity is not easy. Offers come in all the time wanting to invest, but they also want to alter the vision. The vision cannot be altered or otherwise you lose the company. This job is not for the faint-hearted. It is tough and demanding. I work round the clock with lots of staff sharing the vision on all facets of the company. As we continue to scale, I will be happy to delegate and lead from a distance.
6- The Fashion market is very changing, where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Yes, the fashion industry is definitely an evolving one, as are most industries. In the next five years I see Illustrious Shoes as a solidified player in the market. I believe the brand will have established itself as one to stay. I also believe that women will provide the necessary testimony of the company’s value that it offers. Illustrious Shoes should have flagship stores throughout the US within 5 years with a concentration on international markets.
7- What were some of the biggest challenges you encountered while working on Illustrious Shoes?
Some of the biggest challenges was building the platform and finding manufacturers that would adhere to the vision of the company. Capital is always the BIGGEST challenge for any startup. The more capital you have the quicker you feel you can reach your destination. Hiring staff that would maintain the integrity and vision of the company was also a challenge. In today’s time many workers just a quick buck and aren’t too concerned with offering quality service. It was important to me that we focused more on the quality of service versus the quantity of employees.
8- What can you tell the audience about current trends and tastes in the fashion market and the direction in which it is heading?
Fashion is a wonderful industry and we’ve seen tremendous growth over the last several years in how expression has changed all marketplaces. Traditional men’s suits are out the window. Women’s simple pencil skirts are a thing of the past. I think the word “simple” is a thing of the past. We long now for expression in everything we wear. That same pencil skirt, if worn, would need some killer shoes, a loud scarf or neck jewelry, and a designer bag. Women and men have found much more ways in today’s time to fit their respective industries and express themselves differently. Technology is changing every industry and fashion will be no exception. Watch for the integration of technology in assisting with better fit and comfort.
9- What are you most excited about at the moment?
I am most excited about the growth of Illustrious Shoes. It excites me to know that I have built a platform that offers women great value. Making money is great, but offering the best of yourself is priceless. I desire to give women the best of the shoe industry by offering great style, comfort, and affordable prices. What more can you be excited about than feeling “Illustrious”?
10- The last word or final thoughts?
I know that building a sustainable business is not easy. Statistics show that most businesses do not survive past two years. Believe me, those stats are true because I’ve seen first-hand how businesses fail. It takes lots of commitment and support to succeed. I am asking that all who read or was touched by this interview reach out and send your comments or feedback to Illustrious Shoes so that we can serve you better. I do not profess to know it all, but with your help I can offer the best product and service. Sign up to the newsletter to receive valuable industry news and fashion tips. Visit the website and experience the feeling of being “Illustrious”. Have a safe and wonderful holiday and may the new year bring you joy and prosperity.