Australian entrepreneur Jodie Fox was tired of walking out of shoe stores feeling frustrated. "You'd come home saying, 'They ran out of my size' or 'They didn't have the color I needed,' so I thought, let's solve this," she says.
Her inspired fix: Shoes of Prey, a mass-customization, on-demand online retailer that within days can produce, say, a size 3 extra-wide pointy pump with zebra stripes if you need it — and at a rack price that has traditional shoe brands pivoting heel to catch up.
Founded in 2009 in Sydney but now based in Los Angeles, the company has logged more than 6 million customer shoe designs on an alluring web interface that makes bespoke footwear as simple as ordering a pizza online.
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Shoes of Prey has raised $26 million in funding, with backers including Khosla Ventures, Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn and TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington. Manufacturing is done in a dedicated factory that the brand opened in China in 2014. Shoes are typically delivered within two weeks.
"The whole approach is less dictatorial than traditional shoe brands that tell you, 'This is what you're wearing this fashion season,'" says early investor Elaine Stead of Blue Sky Funds. "Instead, it's 'Tell us exactly which shoe you want when you want it and we'll make it for you."