December 2019 - January 2020 Best Cities for Work in B.C.

With a mission to inform, empower, celebrate and advocate for British Columbia's current and aspiring business leaders, BCBusiness go behind the headlines and bring readers face to face with the key issues and people driving business in B.C.

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BCBUSINESS.CA DECEMBER/JANUARY 2020 BCBUSINESS 25 There's a side of the business that is completely mechanical. The shoe busi- ness is an inventory control game. So I have all these new styles coming in all the time, and I have to get rid of the old ones and maintain my margins. It's really Retailing 101. And the other part of it is, I'm really, at the root of what I'm doing, not selling shoes. I'm selling a feeling, an emotion. I don't sell a commodity. In one sense, nobody needs my shoes to function, but they might need them to get through life. They might need them to make them- selves feel special. And I hope my shoes do that, they make people feel special. What advice would you give the young John Fluevog if he were starting out today? Probably the same advice I'd give any- body: be yourself. If you're starting a business and are looking at another suc- cessful business and you just copy or emulate it, I don't know that that's going to be successful. If you have your own idea, your own energy, your own feeling of how you want it to be, and you go into it with both feet, you've got a much bet- ter chance of being successful, no matter what it is. It's putting that stamp of your own DNA on something. One of your slogans is that good soles leave small prints, no matter what the shoe size. Given your own efforts to create eco-friendly shoes, how can the fashion industry reduce its environ- mental impact? People, particularly the media, want to tout me as being environmentally friendly. And I do try. I try to do leathers that are chrome-free; I try to do soles that are biodegradable; I try to do heels that will biodegrade. But really, there's the very act of being in business. I'm shipping things all over the world. So for me to say, Oh, yes, I'm so environmentally friendly, look how marvellous I am, is bullshit. I spend $100,000 a year on FedEx sending samples back and forth. I think the bigger thing I've ended up doing is that my shoes have become col- lectible. They're not super in fashion; nor are they super out of fashion. So people collect them. I find that's the biggest environmen- tally sound practice I can do. People are

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