Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Interview with Simon Bourne, Founder of The Hand Dyed Shoe Company

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Simon Bourne

1- Hello Simon, can you tell us a bit about yourself
I’ve always been a bit different from the rest. At school, I was the odd kid, the one who didn’t really conform with trend or the cool kids’ routine.
I went through most stages of the confused young adult. When I first met my girlfriend – now my wife of 3 years – I was 15 and very much the sportsman. It was football shirts and tracksuit bottoms all the way. I was rarely seen without a cap. In to my late teens and I discovered long hair and straighteners before the dreaded black hair dye. This preceded blue hair dye, red hair dye and every other colour you could imagine. It was only really, in my late 20s that I truly found my identity – as corny as that sounds. I started to read more magazines, observe more and ultimately be confident in what I was wearing rather than rebellious.
My ‘style’ now still doesn’t confirm as such. I like to be smart casual if you want to put a classification on it. Shoes, always, of course, with jeans, shirts, braces, dicky bows, ties, waistcoats, blazers, knits and hats… take your pick!
My point is that I’m creative, very creative, and my company is essentially an extension of this creativity that I yearn for.

2- How would you describe “The Hand Dyed Shoe Company” in under few words?
The Hand Dyed Shoe Company is about many things. I’ve always liked the finer things in life; great coffee, good wine and period furniture, that type of thing… so quality is the first thing I seek. My shoes have to be the best, there’s no in between. Every element, every stitch, every curve is thought about. And no less the colour, it’s about individualism, uniqueness. The technical side of hand dyed leather – which has been around for nearly 200 years – means that it’s impossible to make two pairs of shoe the same, the colour – or patina – will always take differently…
So, in a few words, I would say it’s “refined quality with a unique twist”…

3- What are your focus areas and why?
I want to reach out to those men who like something special. The 21stC man is as image conscious as their spouse, and rightly so! There’s no better feeling that looking in the mirror and tipping your hat in appreciation of yourself. We should all love ourselves! So my focus is to reach that market, the man who wants something special to go with any outfit – his shoes that will last him a lifetime and merely get better with age, just like him!

 4- How do you differentiate yourselves from your competitors?
Firstly, me. There is nobody out there more passionate and in love with their product than I am. But equally as important is the product. You have a Grensons that has been around since the mid 19thC, great company. You have your Barker shoes – another excellent British company that have proven their heritage over the last century… but for me, there is no product or brand out there that achieves the ultimate attention to detail, start to finish, through the shoes, the brand and the service. My company cannot help but make you feel special, and that’s what makes us different.

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5- Where do you think “The Hand Dyed Shoe Company” is making an impact?
I believe the company is about much more than making a fashionable statement. It’s about encouraging individualism and offering that product that can make you feel special. So in terms of impact, I actually believe that through The Hand Dyed Shoe Company experience, you can literally impact your personality.
In terms of the industry, the market is swamped with cheaply made imports. People spend in excess of £50+ on cheaply made shoes which they will replace in 6 month’s time. What I am offering is handmade leather shoes meticulously designed to last at a very fair retail value, and the key words there is ‘value’. It’s so important, value can’t be underestimated when it comes to quality and ultimately the more imitations I can replace with real leather, etc, the better for everyone.

6- What are some things that most people don’t know about your job?
I do all of my own photography! It’s vital to the company that it is eye catching but when I first started out, I didn’t have any money so one way I came up grabbing attention is to create stunning photography. It all ties in with that creative energy I talked about earlier. So, when you sitting in a river hand dying a pair of handmade shoes, bear in mind I’m also using my remote to coordinate my camera to grab those all important snapshots.

7- The fashion world is very changing, where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Julie Deane and The Cambridge Satchel Company managed to create an evolutionary product. Their innovation of a classic bag turned a nation into bag carrying accessorisers overnight. It was the must have product. My challenge is to create a culture where people immediate question – are your shoes hand dyed? It’s about creating a fashion brand, a label, a nod of appreciate to the time spent on crafting your attire an that’s what I hope to achieve.

 8- And what were some of the biggest challenges you encountered personally?
There just aren’t enough hours in the day! Having a young family, a full-time job, two companies and a pair of pooches mean that time is of the essence and time management is tough.

9- What are you most excited about at the moment?
Destiny! It’s taken the best part of two years to refine my product and get it to a place where I am content. The fun really starts now! I can’t wait to expand my order book and to start crafting beautiful shoes for inspiring people. I love networking and quite literally every day I feel like I’m meeting new people and learning from them, and that’s what excites me.

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10- A last Word or final thoughts?
In the words of a very wise and inspiring man… ‘Connection is everything. Connect with others, and with your spiritual self. Love the truth you find in other hearts, and always listen to the voice of truth in your own heart.’


To know more please visit Simon’s company website at: www.handdyedshoeco.com

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Noelle Elia
Noelle Elia
is a Financial analyst at PSPC. Graduated from Telfer School of Management, Finance/Accounting with interest to Entrepreneurship and New Media.
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