Q & A with Entrepreneur in Residence Stacey Head of She Wear

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Stacey Head She Wears

Innovator and entrepreneur, Stacey Head, is the founder and Managing Director of She Wear, a safety workwear brand designed specifically to fit women. Stacey is the current Freelancing Gem’s Entrepreneur in Residence and has taken the time to answer your hard-hitting business questions. Everything from her top time management tips, to gaining the confidence to get started and raising capital.

Looking back to when you first started She Wear, is there anything you’d change when you were in the start-up phase?

No doubt a lot! I did start the brand as a home-based “hobby” so I could continue with my main work, which was property development at the time. I would readily admit I wasn’t very organised in terms of policies and procedures (such as accounting systems), so that is something I would recommend having in place from day 1.  I do have an attitude that you learn from mistakes and difficult times, so I’d prefer not to regret too much about my business journey!

There are so many more opportunities now for business grants, mentors, and advisors and I do wish that was around when I started she wear.

How did you grow the business? What was your best investment?

I was fortunate to be able to grow my business in the early days with the aid of Facebook when it was organic and not expensive to advertise.  About 4 months after launch, our boots were worn on the female contestants of The Block, so that certainly gave us a big boost to brand awareness and was the defining moment of me realising this was a business with potential.

Not having any background in footwear design (other than loving shoes of course!), I wanted to grow the brand and our product range carefully and thoughtfully, so we could ensure our product offering was what our customers wanted and needed.  Listening to their feedback, and acting on it, has been pivotal to our growth and has enabled our designs to evolve over the years, diversify into new markets and achieve YOY growth. I have a brand ethos that we just don’t design and make shoes, but we design and make healthy, “good” shoes that keep women supported and comfortable all day. Our prototype and R&D stages of our business are quite slow and considered (traditionally footwear is a very slow prototype-to-market industry), but worth the investment of time to ensure our product is right for the market.

I would say one of our best investments was introducing a digital marketing software programme to be able to remarket and target customers, followers, and lookalikes.  We introduced this just before Covid lockdowns, and it enabled us to grow during that difficult time and be able to spread our brand message and values, which are very unique in our (male-dominated) space.

I think with growing a business, you very much need to stay in your own lane and try to block out the negative noise from others.  Be unique, listen to customer feedback and improve and tweak your products.

Be authentic.. and listen to your gut.

Stacey Head

How do you deal with competitors or copycats?

We all have competitors, something we can’t avoid and something we need to accept. Copy cats, on the other hand, are another matter – and unfortunately, we’ve had several instances at She Wear.

After your own products are copied, I’ll admit, it’s impossible not to obsess about what others are doing! However, I have learnt over time that staying in my own lane, being innovative (and pushing market boundaries) and building relationships with our community is a much healthier focus than worrying about outside influences which you can’t control. Our competitors in the safety footwear market are all large companies and multinationals, and we just can’t compete with their marketing budgets and distribution channels – so we don’t try to.

We’ve had about 7 instances of individuals or companies copying our products.. some identical, except for the branding which has been disappointing. We have sought, and acted, on legal advice at times to protect our brand’s reputation and our brand’s individuality. It’s extremely important to ensure your trademarking and relevant registrations are up to date, and if relevant, patents and registered designs.  Speaking with professionals in that space is vital.

Who do you admire most in business?

I have always admired Sara Blakely (Spanx) and the fact she’s bootstrapped her business for 20 odd years is very inspiring. And I see in the news this week, for the very 1st time she has sought external equity and is now worth a very cool $1.2 billion!  A great story!!

There are many women I admire who operate in the business space, in non-traditional industries such as trades or construction, and also women who are pushing for change to create an equal world. I think that’s the greatest power of social media.

“you can’t be what you can’t see”

and I love reading stories of everyday women challenging the norm.

We are delighted to bring Stacey Head to our members as our Entrepreneur in Residence, and for our Ruby and Emerald members, make sure you ask her all your burning business questions this month. Not a member yet? Here is why you should be.


Tips to tackling the common challenges for women in business by Freelancing Gems Entrepreneur in Residence