A Salford mum-of-four has secured a £50,000 investment for her footwear business after appearing on BBC’s Dragons’ Den.
Gaynor Thomasson has teamed up with Dragon and fashion mogul Touker Suleyman after a tense pitch on the show last Thursday evening.
The 53-year-old from Monton, has three brands in her portfolio including ‘It’s All About Shoes’ which specialises in making high end fashion footwear and ‘Heels and Toez’ which offers customised guaranteed-to-fit interchangeable shoes for children.
Gaynor said: “It was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life. I’m generally quite shy, but I was delighted to have been selected and getting to work with Touker is a life changing experience.”
Touker was drawn to the unique designs, expert craftsmanship and the sustainability of materials used and offered £50,000 for 40 per cent of her business after the usual intense grilling by the Dragons. Gaynor has worldwide patents on all her designs, which boosted her chances of securing investment.
Gaynor added: “We have progressed immensely since the Den and have lots more exciting projects to come. The next year will see several products launched into the UK market.”
Gaynor is passionate about changing the way shoes are manufactured and educating wearers to make better purchase choices.
She grew up in South Africa and spent her childhood on the beaches and always felt close to nature.
Gaynor says this inspired her to produce a brand with strong environmental credentials. She learned that more than 300million pairs of shoes end up in landfill annually or are burned and felt that there was a gap in the market for a sustainable product.
She said: “Have you ever thought ‘where will these shoes land up when I have finished with them?’. There are 30 to 80 components in a shoe. If they cannot be separated, they cannot be recycled. Our shoe allows you to glide the straps/design off the base unit, easily separating them.”
Gaynor’s background has not always been within the footwear business. She trained in the high-end fashion houses of Florence and Venice learning her craft making handmade shoes. This gave her a grounding within the industry, but she always felt frustrated by the lack of environmental credentials of many of the mainstream footwear brands and wanted to create a high-quality product.
Gaynor has worked with Manchester University to develop her product and a dedicated business coach from People Plus and The Manchester Growth Hub.
For more information visit www.heelzandtoez.com.
Left image credit: Mikey via Flickr. CC https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ No changes made