Starting out in the footwear industry at the age of 15, and running multiple successful retail focused businesses including Kate Kuba, it is clear that entrepreneur Cos Constantinou lives and breathes shoes (and retail).
Constantinou’s current venture provides a “360 service” for new footwear brands as well as established retailers looking to relaunch their business. Currently working with former Pussycat Doll and presenter Ashley Roberts on her new shoe line and with new luxury British footwear brand Phio Myo, 93 Consultancy provides everything from helping to design products, sourcing distributors, securing stores, PR, social media, marketing and everything in between.
We met with the retail entrepreneur to find out the secrets of the trade and to understand more about his latest unique venture.
Tell us a bit about your background. What have been the highlights?
“I started my career at the age of 15, playing truant from school to work in my mother’s shoe store. I got the retail bug straight away, in fact as soon as I made my first sale! A few years later after meeting Kate, my wife, we co-founded Kate Kuba. This was an incredible journey, creating a shoe brand from scratch and evolving it season after season to being a press, celebrity and consumer favourite. A highlight was winning the UK footwear awards 5 times! A dream come true for Kate and I.”
How has your previous experience aided your current business? What have you brought with you?
“I believe that if you are passionate about something it can aid its success. We were both so passionate about our brand and product, ensuring only the best designs and materials were used. We have now passed this on to our clients again through our consultancy business.”
Explain your new venture 93 Consultancy, what do you offer? What’s unique about the business?
“93 consultancy is a business, named after the year we started out that provides a 360 service to our clients. We are the only UK business that can act as a one stop shop for clients wishing to launch a shoe collection. From inception-design-manufacture-distribution-PR-Social media-digital and retail advice, 93 provides it all meaning the client can rest assured they are getting the best from a 20 year experienced team”.
Constantinou noted that the consultancy has gained a number of its clients from social media and word of mouth. The business has also aided brands in setting up “pop-ups, events and kiosks”.
Who are your main competitors in the industry?
“At the moment, although there are some amazing designers no one provides a complete service!”
Who are you working with currently?
“Amongst others, we are currently providing a 360 service for Ashley Roberts. The collection was designed by Ashley with our designers and pattern makers, manufactured in a family run factory in Naples, Italy. Ashley had a clear idea what she wanted and has a fantastic passion for shoes. The collection is to launch for SS17 and is called Allyn, Ashley’s middle name. The whole team is very excited about this launch.”
What advice would you give someone who is considering embarking on a start-up business? What are the essentials?
“Firstly I would say be passionate about your idea. It is going to need your complete energy and drive to make it a success. Assess your position in the market and your competition and be focused on your offering to make it miles ahead of the competition.”
Constantinou added that having the “best people” for the job is key, with excellent staff, the business will move forward.
What would you say is the biggest risk for a start-up retailer / brand in the current climate?
“A massive risk to start up retailers and brands is the fierce competition in what is already an overcrowded market place. To combat this we offer each retailer/brand with a bespoke strategy based on their direct competition in the market place starting with a complete focus on their product offering to helping an existing or implementing a strong PR and social media campaign.
“We want our clients to have winning styles with successful sell through as opposed to being all things to all men and conforming to what everyone else is doing, which currently there much of this going on our High Streets and on line today”.