Shoes of Prey presses pause to select a business sale or pivot

Shoes of Prey, a Khosla Ventures-backed shoe retailer whose website let women customize footwear purchases by selecting the color and material of the sandals or pumps they wanted to order as well as the size, has announced it’s stopped taking orders after almost ten years trading. The management team will now decide whether to sell […]

Shoes of Prey, a Khosla Ventures-backed shoe retailer whose website let women customize footwear purchases by selecting the color and material of the sandals or pumps they wanted to order as well as the size, has announced it’s stopped taking orders after almost ten years trading.

The management team will now decide whether to sell or otherwise pivot the business.

Founder Jodie Fox announced the shut down in an Instagram post in which she writes about the struggles to scale the company’s early profitability.

“We tested many channels to scale what we had created. From award-winning physical stores, to wholesaling, and of course our direct to customer online experience,” she writes. “While all the indicators and data were positive, we were not able to truly crack mass-market adoption.”

“We are making the difficult decision today to pause orders and actively assess all our options to either sell, or at a later date, reboot the business with substantial changes,” she adds.

“We will cease normal trading as we go through this process. Our customers with outstanding orders will either receive their shoes as promised, or a full refund if we have been unable to make their shoes before this pause.”

A note on the company’s website also reads: “When we started Shoes of Prey back in 2009, we couldn’t have dreamed that we would have the opportunity to share in such an incredible adventure. And you were the most wonderful people to have that adventure with. Today we’re pausing to consider our options for the future of our business, and we have stopped taking orders. We have reviewed all of our orders and if we see that we are unable to make your shoes, you will be fully refunded.”

Customers with questions or queries are asked to email help@shoesofprey.com

Fox does not specify how many customers Shoes of Prey had been able to attract over its near decade run, starting in Australia and later moving its headquarters to LA — beyond referring to “millions of women around the world who have designed shoes with us”.

The company had shown signs of trouble this year, with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting it secured a small bridge round in March at terms which that were said to be “significantly lower” than its previous round of funding (it raised $15.5M in 2015).

In an email to investors at the time, CEO Michael Fox said the bridge round would be used to keep operations afloat and help it seek a new business model.

“Over the last 2 years we’ve made very good progress with our manufacturing capability however we’ve struggled to grow at the rates we’d forecast,” he wrote. “The terms are significantly lower than our last round of funding, but with no alternatives other than winding up the company our board today resolved to recommend this offer to shareholders.”

Last month it also emerged that Shoes of Prey investor Blue Sky had cut the value of its investment in the startup by 12%.

According to Crunchbase the custom footwear retailer had raised a total of $25.9M since 2009.