Big Shoes, big ideas
Businesswoman who turned her problem into profits shares tips to help out others
SMALL Mackay, Moranbah and online business Big on Shoes is one of 30 regional businesses featured in the Facebook and Instagram Annual Gift Guide, and now owner Melissa Westcott wants to share the key to her success with other small business owners.
Mrs Westcott and her business were invited to sit on the small business council with Facebook and be part of the first annual gift guide in September where she will be in a position to provide input and suggestions on how the sites can improve life for small businesses.
The rural business started as an online only provider, unable to use traditional advertising and relying solely on social media to develop a community.
Now the stores have two shops and nearly 20,000 followers on their social media and Mrs Westcott said the best advice was to get creative.
“Social media from the very start has been key for us, so making conversation with our customers finding out what they want is all something we can achieve on things like Facebook,” she said.
“It’s allowed us to connect to our customers in real time, we have email marketing and our website to have an official presence online, but social media allows us to react when stock comes in so our customers to know about right away.”
While social media was a great tool, she said, it relied on the staff to breathe life into it for it to truly develop a customer-business bond.
“The key for us is we have some diverse personalities and the whole love for our business is our love for the customers and our love for the shoes and products we stock,” she said.
“Our posts are more than a written blurb on a website, it’s us talking on a live video or us mucking around and explaining products.
“It feels embarrassing as hell the first few times you do it, but you just have to jump on and do it and it will do wonders for your business.”
Big On Shoes was started 10 years ago when Ms Westcott was on maternity leave with her first son with a goal to offer shoes to cater to all sizes from size 5 to 15.
“I come from having very big feet, having size 12 feet when I was 12 years old, definitely not normal for a girl my age,” she confessed.
“We had the fun of flying down to Brisbane or doing mail order, to get shoes for my deb or formal and I spent the majority of my life in men’s shoes or in thongs until I was 25 and looking at Big On Shoes.”
After a few years of research and contacting providers on shore and overseas she was finally able to open in 2009 on- line, before opening the first store in Moranbah in 2012 and the Mackay store in 2015.
For fellow small business owners Mrs Westcott offered some advice.
“The first thing, without sounding to sales pitchy, there’s Facebook blueprint on the site which will walk you through setting up a page which was really helpful,” she said. “It’s just getting in and having a go at it.
“When you see the engagement you get and how much your customers love seeing that side of your business that’s where the reward is.”
BEST FOOT FORWARD: Big On Shoes owner Melissa Westcott.Photo: Contributed