At Natural Fit Footwear we are passionate about our community of customers and invite you all to join the journey to the launch of the first store. I would like to start by telling you the story behind myself and my family. Also, and importantly, the story of how Natural Fit Footwear became real. In the future, the blogs are going to be informative, they will be engaging and they will provide plenty of interesting and useful information. These articles will express our Core Values:
PEOPLE FIRST • EXPERT & PROFESSIONAL • DIVERSE & INNOVATIVE • COMMUNITY DRIVEN
For our first post, however, the Natural Fit story…
Growing up, I was never short of inspiration for my life ambitions. On one side of my family, I saw my grandfather build a range of successful businesses in fruit stores and old-fashioned milk bars. On the other side of the family, my grandparents ran a clothing alterations business in a shed in the backyard, while also holding down hard labour jobs. My father has worked in sales in the same company for over 40 years and most of his customers are now his life-long friends. My mother had 4 children (4 boys!) by the time she was 30. At 35, with no former tertiary education, she decided to become a high school chemistry and physics school teacher. So, she went to full time university as a mother of 4 and finished a teaching degree. That was 25 years ago and she still teaches today.
As a child, I walked Cronulla Mall on a Saturday morning with my Grandfather, getting frustrated because we couldn’t take 2 steps without someone yelling out “Phil, how are you?”. I remember going to regular family lunches at my grandparents and not just spending time with my grandparents, but also the cousin of the husband of my 2nd cousin’s wife. I remember people coming over to our house for coffee and cake who were customers of my father’s business. When I was interested in Track & Field, my father trained with me every day. When I played soccer, my father coached my team. When I wanted to be a cub scout, my mother was the Akela.
Having this background formed the foundation for the person I am today, in family and in business. I am the husband of my best friend, Jess, a father of two fantastic boys and a son and brother in a wonderful family. I have only had 3 full-time jobs in my life and two of them were for over a decade.
However, although I have been and still am very fortunate to be around this environment, for me personally, there have been challenges. I have never really picked things up as quickly as the person next to me and at times my passion and enthusiasm have seen me get far too carried away. Jess and I have had to face personal challenges that truly tested our strength as a family. In short, we have had to work very hard for what we have got.
EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON
On the corporate retail front, I have been equally fortunate to have been around inspirational and strong leaders. A lot of the structures and values we will display in Natural Fit Footwear have come directly from these people. Through the journey of Natural Fit Footwear, I hope to introduce you to some of these people through social media in the next few months.
In addition to having great role models, I have worked in exciting markets. Being in footwear for the first 10 years of my working life, being around footwear in my sporting life as a junior and having an interest & passion for footwear has always kept me engaged. I am one of those very fortunate people who never look at the clock at work and wish the time away.
I have enjoyed some great opportunities in my years in the corporate retail field. I have managed businesses in 9 different countries, living in Hong Kong, Melbourne and Sydney and visiting over 15 countries for work, meeting some amazing people during that time. I have worked hard, worked long hours and chased the budget. For all of this, I am truly grateful and it has enabled Jess and me to lead a life we feel lucky about. However, as most people know, working in a company with many different levels of management and many different accountabilities has a degree of sacrifice. I missed my son’s second birthday because I was at a conference in Asia, I missed 3 Mothers’ Days in a row because of work travel and I missed too many family events to list. I spent most weekday nights on conference call to the UK and towards the end of my corporate life I spent at least two nights a fortnight sleeping on a plane. This wore thin on my family. It wore thin on my health and the financial benefits certainly didn’t outweigh the sacrifice to the life values I hold.
There was a turning point in 2015 when I realised that my values both as a business manager and as a person were not quite right. This forced me to make changes to how I approached life as a manager, a husband and as a father. I quickly learned that it was not about the customer or the shareholders or the bosses…it was about the people in my life. I had to put the people in my life first and then everything else would find its place.
So, with all that being said and knowing a little more about my past, I had the opportunity in January this year to make a major change to my life and the lives of those that I loved. Being at home with my family was important, being active and living an active life was important. However, work is also a very important part of my life and my upbringing.
I am passionate about people. I am passionate about footwear and I am passionate about community.
Furthermore, all my hard work and experience mean I am good at doing these things too. There was really only one way to be able to live that life and it certainly wasn’t in a corporate world, on an aeroplane or living out of a suitcase while my family were in a different time zone. Jess and I decided to start our own business, run it the way that enables us to hold true to our personal and business values and use our experiences to live the life we want to live.
By founding Natural Fit Footwear, I have the opportunity to not only get back into the footwear industry which I love, but also own a business to set new standards. Jess & I intend to recruit, train, motivate & develop a great team to ensure they have the knowledge, passion & enthusiasm to ensure the correct fit, every time. We will deliver an expert and professional environment where our team know their stuff and deliver this consistently to every customer in a professional, expert & simple way. We will continually lead innovative solutions both in the retail stores and online stores. We will be fast to move on every new opportunity and advancement. We will be diverse in our approach. We will offer diverse products and use diverse logistic methods to reach every customer either in their market place, workplace or in their lounge rooms. Most of all, we will be proud of our community and support & encourage active lives. We will also support Vegan shoes, Australian owned/made & Eco friendly shoes.
It sounds all a little fluffy, doesn’t it? It is a little bit of my corporate voice coming through. In short, by opening Natural Fit Footwear, I am thrilled to be living a dream I have had for many years and doing something both Jess and I are really passionate about.