Perry Co. Shoes: Year One
By Amanda Harth
Photos by Felton Kizer
Brittney Perry is in year one of her business, Perry Co. Shoes, and has learned how to run a business like most of us; through trial and error, taking more risk, and not being afraid to ask for help along the way. I saw Brittney’s sneakers for the first time on fashion designer, Sheila Rashid’s, runway in the Fall of 2017. I messaged Brittney on Instagram to meet and see the product up close. I was curious. Who the hell else was making sneakers in Chicago in 2017? Given she isn’t a formerly trained designer, I was impressed with the quality of the sneaker and her level of taste in the design. The shoe has a minimal aesthetic and is made with two different types materials and a white rubber sole. We reached out to see what Brittney is up to next, this is Perry Co. Shoes: Year One.
AH: How did you come to the conclusion that you wanted to create a shoe?
BP: I first had the idea to start my own shoe when I was in college. I didn’t know where to start and the idea kind of faded. It wasn’t until I started my corporate job and with the introduction to Instagram that I found the resources and courage to start my own shoe even though I did not attend school for design.
AH: How did you come up with the first design of Perry Co. shoes?
BP: I had about 12 different sketches and went with the shoe I have now. It was a simple and versatile design that I wanted to start with, more of a classic silhouette that was safe.
AH: Why did you choose to start with sneakers?
BP: Shoes is really what I’m passionate about most so I started with that.
AH: Were you a sneaker head growing up?
BP: Yes I’ve been wearing sneakers since birth :-). My older brother probably had an influence on me liking sneakers. My twitter name is also named after my fav shoe brand and one point which is Nike SB
AH: Who is your customer?
BP: Target market is around ages 21-55. These customers are in the workforce and have the resources to spend on product. The customer can range from someone that is in corporate America that wants comfort and style or it can be someone that likes streetwear with classic sneakers.
AH: How many people do you have on your team now?
BP: Just me for now. Working on adding 1 or 2 interns this year as well as a lead designer.
AH: What resources do you use to market your products?
BP: Right now I mainly use Instagram. It’s the fastest and easiest way to spread awareness and connect with people all over the world. I do have Twitter, but haven’t really used it a lot and don’t have many followers. I think Twitter is a great way to reach thousands of people quickly, but you have to have a decent following.
AH: Do you have any mentors that coach you regularly?
BP: Yes I have 2 mentors at the moment.
AH: What is the most challenging thing about running your company?
BP: Mostly time management because I’m balancing a job and trying to do everything with PerryCo on my own. Also financially it’s difficult to continually grow without taking on funding or investments.
AH: Do you feel like Streetwear has always been a bit of a boys club?
BP: Definitely. It used to be rare to ever see women included in streetwear talks. I think women were viewed a certain way if they were into streetwear and the norm was for women to be into girly things and dresses. Society’s views have changed towards gender norms but I think now since we see more women wearing streetwear and it’s at its peak, it’s accepted and definitely trendy at this point.
AH: What have been some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
BP: The most valuable lessons I’ve learned is there’s never going to be a perfect moment to do something, you just have to push yourself to start and put yourself out there. I’ve also learned to always be yourself and go with your gut. Believe in your product and don’t conform to trends.
AH: What plans do you have for 2019?
BP: The goal is to get Perry Co. into at least 4 boutiques in the Chicagoland area. We are currently in 2 (Leaders1354 and 2048). Also to do an artist collab shoe, more pop ups and trade shows in the area. We will also be releasing 2 new shoes this year and different colors of our first silhouette “The Prelude”.
AH: Who are some of the women you admire in the streetwear realm of fashion?
BP: I really admire Vashtie, Aleali May and Yoon Ambush. Theyve really represented for women/tomboys and have really created a path for women in industries that are still mostly male dominated (footwear, jewelry, DJing)
AH: What are your thoughts on the current state of retail?
BP: I think the current state of retail has changed rapidly. Brands that are smaller and direct to consumer are having a lot of success because they are able to turn designs faster and have face to face contact with their customers. However, a lot of smaller brands are getting designs ripped off by larger brands. But still, smaller brands, online shopping, and customer demand is causing brick and mortar retailers to close up shop. I feel in the middle about the current state. Too many brands are putting out the same designs or using influencers to help their brands.
AH: What are somethings you wish would change in regards to women designing in Streetwear or contributing to Streetwear culture?
BP: I think we are moving in a great direction and there’s more representation now than there ever has been before. I like seeing collaborations with Nike, Puma etc... but wish more women would start their own brands, more specifically footwear brands.
AH: What is the ultimate goal for your company?
BP: The ultimate goal is to be a well known brand world wide. I hope to get my shoes into larger retailers like Bloomingdales or Nordstrom. I also want to branch into other accessories like bags, socks, etc that will all be unisex items.