Meet the fearless female founder changing the face of extended-size shoes everywhere with MOKKAH shoes, Sherene Headley. MOKKAH is an affordable luxury footwear brand providing options for women who wear extended sizes (UK 8-12).
Sherene spent most of her young-adult life embarrassed by the size of her feet, purely due to the unflattering shoes that were made available in extended sizes. Tired of living vicariously through her friends and dreading any occasion that she had to dress-up, she started MOKKAH Shoes.
Over the years, Sherene found that letting her voice be heard would help her reach her full potential. She went from being the girl that hid her shoes in bags when visiting friends houses, to the girl that openly throws her shoe size into conversations at networking events.
Recently, Sherene set out to raise £10,000 through NatWest Back Her Business to launch the Noir Collection. To no surprise, the crowdfunder hit its target within two weeks and is now on track to raise a stretched target of £15,000. Can we get a hell yes!
Question: Where did the inspiration for MOKKAH begin?
When I was younger I had shoes in abundance but as I got older my feet grew at a rapid pace. I was a size 5 at the age of seven, a size 8 at eleven and a size 10 at sixteen.
I went through a multitude of emotions. I felt ugly because I did not fit ‘the standard’ and de-feminised because most women’s stores did not cater for my size. I could only shop at a maximum of two retailers, and the options available in both were boring and uninspired.
I wanted to create a brand that both empowers and inspires women like me, who have found it difficult to express themselves through fashion. I wanted them to feel liberated because they deserve to.
Question: What challenges did you face when creating the MOKKAH brand?
A personal challenge was my fear of being the face for the brand. Having my face, my story, and my journey out in there for people’s thoughts/judgements was difficult for me to comprehend. A part of me wanted to hide but I realised soon after that I needed to connect with my customers. The more I engaged on a personal level, the better the support I received, and women were excited!
A business-critical challenge was the difficulty I had finding a manufacturer who was willing/able to work with a start-up. Most factories will want to produce a minimum 250-300 pairs of shoes in the same style but as a start-up I could not commit to that. I found a manufacturer in Portugal and had begun the process of sampling however Covid-19 affected that relationship so mid-crowdfund I have had to begin a new relationship but this time, with a UK based manufacturer.
There are lots of perks with manufacturing in the UK (apart from their great reputation) and this is where I initially wanted to manufacture but had difficulties as per the above. I am happy to have found this factory but also thankful to have experienced what I did as it taught me that even as a start-up, I shouldn’t put my eggs in one basket.
Question: Tell me about your journey as a female founder?
I have received a lot of support during this journey, especially from women. I have joined female founder groups where I’ve made friends with entrepreneurs, stylists, journalists and also women who love the concept and want to support the business.
What has been a great experience is the willingness for men and women who do not have first-hand experience, being interested in listening and understanding the concept. They don’t have larger feet and/or did not realise what the implications were if they were to have a lack of options like women within this cohort do.
Crowdfunder donations were made from men and women that I knew, as well as those I did not. Our crowdfund ends at 10am on July 3rd 2020 but I’m hopeful we can get there with the help and support of the public.
Question: What do you hope to accomplish with Mokkah Shoes?
Mokkah is going to be a massive brand known for their customer service, high quality products and attention to detail.
Soon after launching we will be introducing a bridal collection; I’ve had many soon to be brides contact me regarding the need and it’s a collection I’m really excited about bringing to market.
We then plan to further develop into the Men and Children categories; keeping with our aim to empower and inspire those with larger feet.
MOKKAH Shoes is on track to successfully launch their first collection by the end of October, 2020. If you’d like to show your support for Sherene and learn more about her crowdfunder with NatWest, click here.