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Lisa Durward gets kick out of giving children healthy feet

Lisa Durward, of Street Stompers.
Lisa Durward, of Street Stompers.

Every Monday, we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to Lisa Durward, who runs children’s footwear retailer Street Stompers in Aberdeen.

How and why did you start in business?

After 20 years working in finance and gaining industry experience as the co-owner of a ladies’ shoe shop, I started my own business in 2017.

I love shoes and children, so the combination was a dream when I opened the doors to bob&lulu and now Street Stompers, a children’s shoe and clothing shop in Aberdeen.

Throughout my career and as a parent, I have grown passionate about educating people about children’s foot health.

Teaching children at a young age how to look after their feet, including wearing properly fitted shoes, is so important.

It is something that was instilled in me from my own parents, and has been a driving factor behind the business and its shoe fitting service.

How did you get to where you are today?

Grit and determination. The past few years have not been easy for small businesses like ours. We have faced challenges, such as stock delays – due to Brexit – and the pandemic meant we had to close our store to work solely online.

Without my staff and loyal customers, I wouldn’t have a business. They have been a huge support and the reason behind the growth of bob&lulu which has allowed us to move to our bigger premises at Street Stompers, Berryden.

Who helped you?

My husband and friends are my biggest cheerleaders. They are there to celebrate wins and to prop me up when I am down. They will also never bat an eyelid to load their car with countless shoes, as proven when they helped me move into our new, bigger store.

During the takeover of Street Stompers I benefited from the use of Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) legal support. I also found the FSB’s online support section, including downloadable templates, incredibly useful.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?

Learn to say “no”. By spreading yourself too thin, you will not only exhaust yourself but it will be detrimental to your health and business. I’ve learned to prioritise better and realise I can’t be all things to all people.

What has been your biggest mistake?

Not trusting my gut instinct, especially when it comes to knowing the stock my customers prefer. In the past I have found myself being swayed by shoe agents or statistics, and those products are generally left on the shelves the longest.

I know what my customers like best, so I have learned to stand my ground and listen to my gut.

What is your greatest achievement?

My proudest and biggest achievement must be the back-to-school shoe campaign I was involved with for AberNecessities. We provided brand new shoes for hundreds of children by negotiating with brands such as Start-Rite. This was a truly amazing effort that resulted in palettes of shoes going to those in need.

Our wonderful customers also supported AberNecessities’ “No Child Should go Without Shoes” campaign. In the past four years we have raised more than £4,000 in customer donations during the summer holidays. This money is given directly to Abernecessites, which then buys school shoes at cost price via myself.

If you were in power in government, what would you change?

I would put a fairer cap on energy prices. It would be the first thing I would change and I would do it fast. Everyone should be able to have heating and a hot meal without worrying if they can afford it.

What do you still hope to achieve?

More than four million children wear ill-fitting footwear which I find crazy. It can have a detrimental impact later in life as it affects the whole physiology.

Education is a huge part of this, so when you come to our store the measuring gauge is only the starting point. Our shoe-fitters look at your child’s feet, take into account the shape before measuring and offer a suitable selection for the child to try on.

You wouldn’t build a house on a wonky foundation, so why would you put your feet into unsupportive and incorrectly fitted shoes.”

Shoe fitting is much more than a measuring gauge – every brand and style fits completely differently. Our team has a wealth of experience to quickly identify the correct brand and style.

Feet are the foundation of the body. You wouldn’t build a house on a wonky foundation, so why would you put your feet into unsupportive and incorrectly fitted shoes? You only get one pair of feet, so look after them.

What do you do to relax?

I love taking my two dogs, Bob and Lulu, on long walks. If a day off ever exists for a self-employed business owner, that is.

I listen to Steven Bartlett’s podcast The Diary of a CEO, which I highly recommend – particularly his episode with Karren Brady that highlights how breaking the glass ceiling is possible with incredible energy, dedication, and drive.

What are you currently reading, listening to or glued to on TV?

I am reading The Cult of We (Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell), which I picked up after I watched WeWork on Netflix. It’s about the rise and fall of coworking space firm WeWork, and the incredible story of its founder, Adam Neumann.

What do you waste your money on?

I wouldn’t say I particularly waste my money on anything. Maybe toys for Bob and Lulu who do enjoy destroying them, especially the squeaky ones.

What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?

Check my phone for emails and reply to any social media comments.

What do you drive and dream of driving?

I drive a Mini Cooper. I’ve had a couple of sports cars in the past but the Mini has always been a favourite. It suits me as I am petite, and it’s a nice, nippy car with a big engine – a bit like myself.

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