For Irish born inventor and first time mum, Lavina Bonar, Sizers is the culmination of years of frustration trying to find the perfect shoe fit. A frustration that led to her inventing the world’s only shoe sizing insert to effectively and comfortably reduce the size of closed toe footwear. Her product is loved by celebrity stylists such as Jessica Paster, Mimi Cuttrell and Bobbie Thomas and has sold to over 60 countries worldwide.
Would you mind giving us a brief explanation of what your business is and when you launched it?
We launched the business on November 1st 2013. Sizers is a revolutionary product – the only shoe sizing insert on the worldwide market. Our products re-size footwear, enabling women to wear shoes that are up to 1 whole size bigger. We currently offer three size increments, with more sizes and products to come, to ensure the perfect shoe fit.
What made you want to start this particular business?
I am a size 5 – but I found that not all size 5’s were the same size. Some were too small and some were too big and then some would stretch out after a few wears. I became so frustrated with heel slippage, falling over and blisters and I thought that other people must be having similar problems.
What do you think it takes to succeed in business?
Lots of hard work, determination and a bit of luck!
What is the most important lesson you have learnt so far?
Don’t rest on your laurels. A business takes years to establish and, much like a child, needs you for the rest of its life. You have got to stay focused and motivated every day, which is difficult with a toddler but doable nonetheless.
What do you think it is about you that enabled you to turn an idea into a business?
I have always wanted to work for myself. Running my own business allows me to develop new skills and get involved in all areas. It’s a learning experience every day. I think my accountancy background really helped to get my business off the ground, as I wasn’t fazed by business plans, budgets and accounting. My parents raised me without limitations so I’ve never been afraid to try something new. I believe there are no failures in life, just lessons!
If you were starting all over again tomorrow, what are the top 3 rules you would follow?
- Delegate more – find someone with the same vision as you and let them get involved. Stick to what you are good at and seek help for everything else as, in the long run, it will save money and time.
- Always plan ahead – there will always be unforeseen costs/events. Allow for these and make a plan A, B & C.
- Bank every scrap of information you find, it’s all useful. You can never do enough research.
What difficulties did you experience setting up your business and what has got you through the tough times?
I was still working full time in the city and pregnant when I was setting up Sizers. I took early maternity leave to concentrate on it and launched the business when I was 7.5 months pregnant. My family were a big help but the excitement of it all got me through. I’m a pretty determined person so I always try to find a way.
Looking back now, would you have done anything differently?
Lots of things but you can’t change the past so I have just made a mental note and focused on the future! My hands were tied with my daughter as I didn’t want to put her into nursery when she was so little, so I tried to find a balance between being a mother and a businesswoman. This was incredibility stressful but now Ava is almost 21 months things are much better.
Do you have any tips for dealing with the struggles of balancing work and family life?
Don’t feel guilty, you can do both and remember, to BE in the moment.
Do you have a mentor and when you need advice, who do you talk to?
I admire strong women, those who were pioneers in their professions or who simply didn’t give up. They are my mentors. I have a very supportive partner in James and we have been together for 14 years so he knows the good, the bad and the ugly. Plus I am fortunate to have a wonderful circle of family and friends.
What are your plans for the future?
Continue growing Sizers, and my family, and creating new products and beautiful babies.
Do you have any specific tips for anyone wanting to start a similar business?
Believe in yourself and your idea. Stay motivated and orientated amid the chaos and remember that end goal. You CAN do it!