Mum who started business from spare room now makes £1M per year selling shoes

The mum put her heart and soles into the venture.
Charlotte Mills holds up her shoe designs.
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A mum who decided to remortgage her house to fulfil her dream of owning her own business has revealed she is now making over £1M a year – having started it alone from her spare room.

Charlotte Mills, 36, from Manchester, had been working as a senior footwear designer for UK high street retailers for eight years, when she decided to take the biggest risk of her life – ditching the steady gig for her own venture.

It has not been an easy journey, with the mum deciding to put her house up as collateral with a new mortgage, as well as taking out a £20,000 loan and taking out even more on credit cards.

Charlotte holds up a classic pair of her shoes.
Charlotte holds up a pair of her stunning shoes. Jam Press/Charlotte Mills.

But the gamble paid off; Charlotte – who specialises in bridal shoes – now rakes in £1 million per year.

Her unique aspect? Including English rhymes in the sole of her designs, adding an embossed sixpence to represent the “something new and something old” for the bride.

A pair of shoes bearing the classic something borrowed something blue rhyme.
Charlotte Mills’ bridal footwear collection features the classic bridal rhyme. Jam Press/Charlotte Mills.

“It was nerve-racking but I really believed in the product and the concept and knew there was a niche in the market,” the mum, who named the business after herself, told JamPress.co.uk.

“I was still nervous of failure and risking our home.

“But I always thought I will make it work, failure is not an option.

“I now have a much better work life balance, I have a young family and love spending time with them as much as I do at work.

“When I first started and for the first few years I didn’t switch off, I worked seven days a week.”

A bride holds a pair of Charlotte's shoes.
Charlotte’s designs mean brides can put their best foot forward. Jam Press/Charlotte Mills.

Charlotte, who shares children four-year-old Margaux and two-year-old Billy with husband Ross, specialises in bridal shoes, having presented her own designs during her final year university show, years earlier.

A random trip to a footwear factory abroad sealed the deal.

She said: “I wasn’t until I spent time at a footwear factory in Spain that I could truly imagine my vision becoming a reality.

“Everyone there was so passionate about it and so skilled.

“There was leather everywhere… I just had this feeling.

“Each pair, resembles the ‘something new’.

“So each pair has an embossed sixpence in the insole as a nod to ‘something old’

“We use blue lining for the ‘something blue’.

“And for something borrowed, each shoe box comes with an envelope, that brides post back with a photo of their wedding day.

“I really struggled to get financial support due to not having any orders on the books, but I did secure a grant from a local businessman who invests in Oldham entrepreneurs.

The business first launched in 2014 and just a year later, Charlotte moved into her first office and took on her first employee, before launching a boutique in Manchester two years later.

She said: “It was an amazing feeling to know everything was going well and going to be ok.”

Last year, she expanded into bags and has since seen her company take off.

A sixpence in one of Charlotte’s shoes – a signature detail from the designer mum. Jam Press/Charlotte Mills.

She said: “This was the year I hit my long time goal, turning over £1 million!”

Now, Charlotte and her business are on track to grow 30% on last year.

“We’ve launched a bestselling bridal trainer, which was a huge success.

“We’ve expanded our bridal clutch bag range and we’ve launched our USA website, making it much easier for our American brides to shop our shoes without paying high shipping fees and customs charges.

“And, in the past couple of years, our team has grown from a team of 3 to a team of 11!”