Starting a New Shoe Company FAQ

What does it take to really start a shoe company?Here at the Sneaker Factory we are often asked for advice on how to start a new shoe company.  So many people around the world are interested in starting new shoe companies so we are going to answer the most common questions that come to the web site.  We are also writing a book on this very subject.



How to start a shoe business with no money?

Well, this is a tough one. The answer is – you can’t.  Just about everything you need to get started is going to cost some money.  Selling permits, trademark registration, shoe designs and samples all cost money.  Maybe a better question would be – How much money do I need to put into my shoe company to attract investors or launch a Kickstarter™ campaign? You can try to launch a Kickstarter campaign without any actual shoes but this will make funding very difficult.

So, how much will it cost to get samples made for a Kickstarter campaign?  If you have your own designs and are using an outsole from the factory, $1,000 to $2,500.  If you need an outsole tool made you can add $2,000 to $4,000, depending on the complexity of the molds required.  If you need designs then add another $2,000 to $3,000 to get designs professionally done.

(This is covered in more detail in chapter six of our upcoming book “How to Start Your Own Shoe Company.)

How much does it cost to start a shoe company?

The cost depends on the complexity of your product line.  The minimum would be $1,000 to $2,000 if you plan to buy “off the shelf” shoe designs using stock materials and stock outsoles.  In this case, the start-up costs would include the price of buying and importing the shoes.  Also, you can assume the factory will require 500 pairs for a minimum order.
(This is covered in more detail in chapter six of our upcoming book “How to Start Your Own Shoe Company)

Can I start a shoe business online?

I have had many people ask me if it’s possible to have a factory in China make custom shoes one by one and have the shoes shipped directly to the customers. Yes, this is possible but very difficult.  The factories  charge close to double the price for a “one off shoe”, then there’s the extra expense of air shipping one pair of shoes from China to the USA or Europe which makes the shoes very expensive.  Also, a customer color picker internet interface will be fairly expensive to develop.

What about buying shoes in bulk and selling them online? Yes, this is a fine idea. If you can get paying customers to your web site it is possible to make good profit margins this way.
(In the upcoming book “How to Start Your Own Shoe Company” we discuss in detail the costing models and distribution models for internet shoe businesses.)

Can you help me make my shoe business plan?

You will need a detailed business plan and Sneaker Factory is here to assist!  Without a solid plan your shoe company dream will become a nightmare!  Your master plan will need many smaller plans. It’s much easier to make a plan if you break it down into smaller parts. Your plan will need to include your brand identity, product plan, financial calculations, sourcing supply chain, sales plan, distribution plan, and marketing plans.
(Shoe company business plans are discussed in chapter 1 of “How to Start Your Own Shoe Company” and the entire book is your guide to making a complete plan.)

How to start a shoe line from scratch?

While this relates to the question “How to start a shoe business with no money?”  The most important idea is to make a shoe LINE.  All the work required to make a shoe company is wasted if you only make  one shoe design and it fails to sell.  You should make a small product line, maybe 2 or 3 styles in a few colors.  More shoes will increase your start up expenses but it will also increase your chance for success. In the trade we call this a merchandise assortment.
(In the new Book “How to Start Your Own Shoe Company” we discuss designing your product line in Chapter 3.)

Can I start a shoe business from home?

Yes! Your small shoe brand can be entirely run from your home. You can have a business selling thousands of shoes without renting office space. This is a fully “virtual” operations plan.  You can hire out all the services your company requires-  design, marketing, and warehousing can all be done by someone  else, someplace else.
(Operational models from traditional to hybrid to virtual are all reviewed in chapter 9 of the book “How to Start Your Own Shoe Company”.)

How to start a shoe manufacturing company?

When people think of Nike™ they think that Nike makes millions of pairs of shoes.  The real truth is that Nike itself does not make the millions of shoes.  Nike (and most of the other mega brands) does not own the shoe factories.  The shoes are developed by Nike in partnership with the factories and Nike lets the factories build the shoes.
Nike sets the standards and has an army of inspectors and technicians but no Nike workers  actually MAKE the shoes.

Starting a shoe manufacturing factory is a totally different question.  Starting a new factory requires space, equipment and people.  The space and equipment are easy to find and buy.  Staffing a factory with experienced pattern makers, developers, technicians and stitchers is a huge challenge.

How much money do I need to start my own shoe brand?

This one is easy. ZERO. You can get started with just a pencil and a pad of paper.  Write down you ideas, make drawings of your shoes and sketch your logos.  Solve a problem that no one else has solved or even seen. Help people perform better in sports or on the job.  Your new shoe company can start in your mind BUT once you put your ideas down on paper you can build and share your ideas with others.

How To Start Your Own Shoe Company PDFYour next steps:

Check Out our New Book:  How to Start Your Own Shoe Company
Read these articles:  Can I start a shoe company  and Finding a Shoe Sourcing Agent. 
Please visit our: Online School School. 

Learn more about making shoes:

Footwear design book Free PFD Shoe Design Book DownloadDo you want to learn how big brands make shoes?  Now you can!  How Shoes are Made will show you how modern shoes come to life! More than just a tour through a sneaker factory and more than your average shoe making book!  From drawing shoe designs to sample development and footwear manufacturing, you will learn how it is all done. Written by veteran shoemaking pros, How Shoes are Made will give you a look inside the REAL world of shoe design, development, and mass production. 220 pages with over 400 color photos and drawings. 26 chapters explaining shoe design, footwear pattern making, sample development, footwear materials selection, upper stitching, outsole and tooling design, shoe lasts, shoe costing, quality inspections, starting you own shoe brand, and much more!  A must read for young shoe designers, sneaker heads, or any footwear fanatic! Over 2500 copies sold! Read in 60 Countries! See Preview Video On YouTube

Download Now! 

Print Edition Now Available!  

Table of Contents:

The Design Process, Shoe Development, Shoe Patterns, Shoe Specifications, Outsole Tooling, Development Process, Pre-Production, Material Preparation, Stitching Operations, Rubber Pressing, EVA Forming, The Assembly Line, The Shoe Last, Footwear Costing, Importing Shoes, Shoe Logo Design, Leather for Shoes, Textiles for Shoes ,Synthetics for Shoes,  Foam for Shoes, Know Your Footbeds, Material Suppliers, Shoe Designers Tools, Jobs in the Shoe Trade ,Quality Control, Starting a Shoe Company, Life at a Shoe Factory, Shoe Making Dictionary

If you want to learn more, check out our new books.

Print Editions and Instant Downloads Available Now!

E-Book edition 170 pages. PC and Mac compatible PDF file. Download Now!

E-Book edition 220 pages. PC and Mac compatible PDF file. Download Now!

Now enjoy the double download of two Sneaker Factory books.

Print Edition, 220 pages with over 400 color photos and drawings.

Print Edition, 250 Pages with over 400 color photos and drawings.

A must have for anyone serious about launching a new footwear company!

E-Book edition 170 pages. Profit margin and Size run calculators. Download Now!

Download Edition + Paper Pattern + Blue Prints and Spec sheets

Start-up Pack is all you need to get your own shoe business started.

Print Edition + Paper Pattern + Blue Prints and Spec sheets

A complete technical specification, drawings, blueprint, pattern and spec.

Computer cut shoe pattern for a classic jogger.  Factory Blue Print included.

Entire pattern size run for the Arris classic trainer, Men’s US 7-13 (Euro 39-47)

Shoe last measuring step. Measures last heel lift from 1cm to 11.5 cm.

24 inch tape specifically designed for measuring shoe lasts.

Ready to Print! Men's size 9 last. The .STL file can be scaled in X, Y and Z.

Great for checking leathers and synthetic materials. Features adjustable dial.

Beaked pincers with built in hammer face. For shoe lasting and sole nailing.

Try the first 3 chapters for Just $3 bucks! With discount code good of $5.00 off!

Great for DIY Shoemaking. This casual rubber outsole is durable, comfortable, and easy to work with.