The Journey of 25-Year Overnight Success of Charleston Shoes

June 14, 2024



In this episode, our esteemed guest, Neely Powell, CEO of Charleston Shoe Company, discusses her love for brick-and-mortar retail and its emphasis on personal connections and immersive experiences. With 24 years of experience, she contrasts in-person interactions with online shopping, emphasizing the unique community-building aspect of physical stores.

Neely's approach goes beyond sales, as she actively supports frontline workers and communities in need, showcasing the broader impact of retail beyond profits. Her journey embodies resilience, innovation, and community focus, highlighting the significance of brick-and-mortar retail in today's digital age.

Conversation Rundown

[ 5:22 - 7:05 ] Surround yourself with the right people to succeed as an entrepreneur.
Being an entrepreneur demands a versatile skill set and a willingness to adapt, often wearing multiple hats and embracing humility in every task, from menial chores to complex business decisions. Delegation is key, as it's impossible to handle every aspect alone. Entrusting passionate individuals with responsibilities allows for business growth, freeing up time to focus on innovation and expansion. By surrounding oneself with a team of trusted individuals, entrepreneurs can navigate the daily challenges and devote energy to refining the company's vision and strategy. Success lies in recognizing one's limitations and leveraging the strengths of others to build a stronger, more resilient business.

[ 15:14 - 16:43 ] Why are problems an opportunity to make business stronger?
Entrepreneurship is a journey filled with both challenges and blessings, an opportunity to build something driven by passion. Viewing problems as stepping stones to fortify the business rather than hurdles to overcome is crucial. Each day brings new lessons and growth opportunities, reminding us that success is not just about reaching a destination but embracing the adventure of continual learning and evolution. Amidst the trials, like those faced during the uncertainties of COVID-19, maintaining a positive perspective becomes paramount. It's about cherishing the magical moments, finding joy in the journey, and persistently adapting and growing, knowing that every experience, whether smooth or rough, contributes to the tapestry of entrepreneurial success.

[ 25:05 - 25:56 ] Why are brick-and-mortars so crucial for your business?
The strategic positioning of stores in bustling tourist towns capitalizes on the immediacy of the moment, where visitors are immersed in experiences and less reliant on digital distractions. This unique setting fosters organic foot traffic, with potential customers drawn in by awareness of the brand and its offerings. The allure of physically browsing products adds to the allure, prompting impromptu visits or deliberate stops. While brick-and-mortar retailing takes precedence in such locales, the online presence remains vital, serving as a convenient option for repeat customers familiar with the product's fit and quality. This dual approach ensures accessibility and caters to diverse consumer preferences, maximizing opportunities for engagement and sales across both offline and online channels.

Meet the Experts

Neely Woodson Powell is the Founder and CEO of Charleston Shoe Company, a renowned footwear brand catering to everyday women, headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina. With over 15 years of experience in the industry, Neely has built an impressive legacy from humble beginnings, starting her entrepreneurial journey by selling shoes from Mexico with just a few suitcases. Her passion for shoe design and entrepreneurship led her to enroll in an accessories design program at the Savannah College of Art & Design, where she honed her skills and collaborated with a fourth-generation cobbler to launch her own line of hand-sewn footwear. Under Neely's leadership, Charleston Shoe Company's products have gained widespread acclaim, being sold in over 300 boutiques across the US and through their 26 stores nationwide. 

Neely's inspiring story, relentless dedication to her craft and her commitment to delivering quality products to her customers is what sets her brand apart in retail.

Retail Tips & Tweetables

People are shopping as an experience.

It's very hard to replicate in-store magic.

Every business is a people business.

Problems aren't problems, they are opportunities to make your business stronger.

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