Finding a shoe manufacturer in Portugal

I had my beautiful baby girl in December and so now I’m properly back on the business!  Hoping to launch in September 2015 if all goes to plan :o)

Finding a shoe manufacturer is one of the harder aspects of the setting up of the business.

I contacted the British Footwear Association who weren't able to provide me with a list of manufacturers or agents in Portugal for me to use, so it was down to Google and LinkedIn in the the end for me, much the same as how I found my freelance shoe designer.

I posted on a group on LinkedIn called ‘Footwear Industry’ that I was looking for a manufacturer in Portugal on there and got a few replies.  

After getting replies from emaling people on google and contacts through LinkedIn, a few seemed good to follow up and now I have two agents who I am talking to.

The agent will look for a manufacturer for me in Portugal based on my requirements.  They can also organise visiting the manufacturers and will pick me up from my hotel to take me to meetings.  They can also help to manage quality control, packaging etc.  

For this they charge a fee from 5-10% of the invoice that the manufacturer will finally give me. The percentage is based on the number of shoes I order, and can obviously be negotiated, but I haven’t done this yet.

So I am planning flying over to Porto (where all of the manufacturers are based) in April to make sure the manufacturer has the lasts I need to make my shoes.  I will also discuss materials, check quality, packaging and make sure they can make my specific designs.

The shoe designer will have the designs ready for me for when I go, and I’m taking out some similar shoes with me to visually demonstrate the kinds of lasts I need.

One of the agents has sent me a sample, which I am waiting for.  Ideally I could do with sample heels and lasts before I visit too, but it looks like I am going to have to do all this when I get out to Porto.

I have no experience of what I’m supposed to be checking at the manufacturers, so I’m going to join the BFA who should be able to provide advice. I’ve also had loads of advice from my shoe designer who has lots of experience in this area.  For this I need to register as a business in the UK, which I have just done as a sole trader.  I’m thinking I might have to go for a Limited company now though, after speaking to one of my friends who went through a similar process when they set up their business a number of years ago.

I have made lots of progress in other areas too – and I’ll get some more posts upsoon about design, building an ecommerce site and marketing planning.

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