From Lismore to global success
EVEN as a high school student, Lismore girl Jodie Fox was very interested in business.
She took commerce as an elective at Trinity Catholic College, and is still grateful for what she learnt there from Mr Quigley.
Her teachers must have laid some solid groundwork, because Ms Fox recently became the Telstra Business Women's Award winner in the Hudson Private and Corporate Sector class.
The young Ms Fox was also drawn to the arts, especially dance, which she began studying as a very young child at the Lismore Rowing Club.
But as the first one in her family to go to university, she opted for the more practical course of International Business and Law when she signed up at Griffith Uni in Queensland.
"I wanted to understand how the world worked because I wanted to be a success in it," Ms Fox said - and that has certainly been the outcome for the vivacious 29-year-old.
After graduating, she worked as a lawyer for several years, in insolvency litigation and later securitisation.
Law gave her a "well-rounded understanding of what you're likely to come up against" in the business environment, she said, and equipped her with negotiation skills and an understanding of commercial contracts.
But her creative side was not satisfied.
"The people were amazing and the work incredible, but my heart really wasn't in it."
So she "readjusted" and took a job in advertising.
Again, the rewards were great and the learning considerable. Her duties included taking the brief, casting and running TV campaigns and managing clients - and budgets.
But a personal wardrobe decision set her on her current course - running an online site called Shoes of Prey, where women can design their own footwear, order it to be made, and pay for it.
"I decided to commission some shoes to be designed and saw what could be done in Asia."
Two friends from law school - one of whom became her husband - worked for Google and the three of them put the concept of affordable, self-designed fashion together with online shopping and, bingo, Shoes of Prey was born.
The site was launched in October 2009. In the two years since it has grown into a multi-million dollar global business, with six offices - in Japan, China, the UK, Russia and Sydney. It employs 19 staff, mainly in Sydney and the south of China, where the manufacturing is done.
And for those who don't believe women take their footwear seriously, Ms Fox reports that they have spent 20 million minutes on the Shoes of Prey website designing their shoes - choosing colour, style and material.
Prices range from $195 to $350.
Ms Fox - who travelled to China to negotiate deals with manufacturers there - helps drive strategic direction, while also leading design, product development, human resources and marketing. She's been busy, but says it's only a start.
"The business has grown faster than we expected, but we have enormous plans for the next three to five years. The company is very much in its infancy. There's a lot to do yet."
Ideas spring up almost daily, and they have already launched a second self-design company, known as Sneaking Duck - an online optical fashion retailer.
Customers can design their own frames (after "trying them on" online), send an order with their prescription and have a pair delivered for $180.
Despite the glamorous life- style and accolades, Ms Fox remains true to her roots.
"I'm connecting increasingly with the Stella Network (a women in business network) in Lismore and will be there for an event in May," she said.