What has been the most rewarding aspect of building a brand between two global and sought-after cities?
Seeing the Hobes brand grow in my two favorite cities on it’s own has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my business to date. Melbourne and NY whilst geographically distant, have much in common. And many people who have lived in both cities will eagerly agree with this. Australian brands have only recently become popular in New York. When I lived here 10 years ago Australian brands were certainly not celebrated the way they are today. The recognition and respect Australian brands are receiving here in the U.S., particularly in NY and LA has been rewarding in itself.
How would you characterize the Hobes community?
When I launched Hobes, I was developing a product, and brand, that I wanted in my life. The idea was to fill a gap in the market for beautifully simple timeless suede shoes. The Hobes style initially, and naturally, mirrored my own style, and the brand that ensued was very laid back and casual – always with a sense of fun. The community around the brand very much feels like this. There is always an element of fun, nothing is taken too seriously and importantly Hobes is inclusive.
What is one question you wish people asked you more often?
People ask me often why I started Hobes, but I’m rarely asked what keeps driving me, and what makes it all worthwhile today. The answer to the first part is easy, I simply wanted to fill a gap in the market for a product I felt was missing, certainly one that was missing from my life. The first two years of a small business are like a honeymoon. Everything is new, exciting, fun and just having a business of your own is a thrill to wake up to each day. I’ve found the most challenging aspect of owning and running a small business comes after the first couple of years when the newness rubs off. Did I ever think that five years later I would be running a business I launched in Melbourne on a whim in New York? Not a chance. Sometimes I think how much I would love a 9-5 job, to be able to leave at the end of the day and switch off, to have weekends, and to sleep – that old thing! The answer of what keeps me going, to what drives me today is much harder. I guess Hobes has become a part of me, it’s not only been my job, but it’s been an enormous part of my life over the last five years. Is it creepy for me to say it’s been like a baby!? And all I want now is for it to grow and become something I am proud of. Oh god, that sounds so cheesy, probably just as well none ever asks me this question.
What do you think is the number one challenge footwear designers face and how have you gone through and solved this in your own experiences?
Ok well, naming just one might be hard, ha. At the moment I would have to say my number one challenge is running a business with teams across different time zones – which basically means I’m up all night. I think the biggest challenge for me is now taking a step back from certain elements of the business and allowing other people to take more responsibility. I need to realize that Hobes can, and will, run without me and to further grow the business, work out where my time is best deployed. This can be difficult when you have nurtured every aspect of the business from scratch.
The Style Line was built on the premise of discovery, exploration, and transit. With this in mind, if what is your “the style line” in your wardrobe?
As mentioned above, items that are versatile, classic and offer transition and ease are essential in my wardrobe. My personal style is inspired by timeless shapes and silhouettes.
Is there a particular evolution you hope to see for the Hobes brand and how have designing shoes inspired your approach to personal style?
My personal style is very simple, classic and my wardrobe revolves around high-quality basics. A great pair of jeans, a simple silk T-shirt, a classic trench and a cashmere sweater is pretty much my uniform. Along with Hobes of course. The idea for Hobes was in developing a range of footwear basics, offering pieces that would live on through seasons, be trans-seasonal and versatile. The modern wardrobe demands classic styles, and versatility and comfort are key. Travel is now an everyday part of life today and footwear needs to be versatile and lightweight. Travel has always been a key driver for Hobes – keeping the product super lightweight, soft and easy to wear – during travel and on arrival – is always top of mind when we further develop the range and introduce new products. With this in mind, travel is at the forefront of the Hobes brand evolution.
*THIS STORY WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN December 2015 and reflects updated changes to the introduction