Jillan Aimable, Chief Executive Officer of Shoeaholics Limited, is determined to launch the bespoke and ready-to-wear footwear and matching accessories brand and make it the number one brand in the entire Caribbean.
The Trinidadian businesswoman has come a long way from her first shop in 2010 in the Arima Dial Mall. The second store was opened in Chaguanas and then additional stores across Trinidad and one in Tobago at the Lowlands Mall, bringing the total to nine locations in the twin island republic.
“I’m addicted to high quality, stylish shoes and spend all my money on the ones I can find. But I’ve often found that the simple shoes I liked always had ridiculously high prices of up to TT$1,000 (about US$145), which is way too much,” Aimable said life.
“I believe in [a philosophy of] Eat a little, live long and everyone should have nice looking shoes. But it is not uncommon for women or people with larger feet in general to complain that they cannot find certain models or fashionable shoes in their size. If a shoe store has a size 10 in a box of 20 shoes of a particular style, you’ll find that 70 percent of their customers do [are] Size 10’s, 11’s and 12’s,” she continued.
Aimable, a mother of two, shared how she combined her retail experience and love of shoes to create Shoeaholics, originally Shoe Fetish 15 years ago.
With her background in marketing management and business development, Aimable was able to study the market and create a large circulation that involved these individuals. When she became pregnant, work became a challenge. Completely on bed rest, it was all or nothing, and she wasn’t going to let anything break her.
She said: “As someone who has had to travel for business purposes to find and buy items, I either had to close the shop and focus on having my children or find another way. That’s where tequila production began. My mom used to say, ‘Jillan, you’re a tequila maker. I give you lemons, you give me tequila. Don’t just make a regular lemonade because of my approach to making things happen.”
Aimable started working with different companies to improve their design line sheets, “[and I] I haven’t found anything I’ve put together to have always done [the] The first thing sold out at the factories and they showed interest, at the time of my son’s birth, representatives from those factories were visiting me in Trinidad to work on their production plans.”
Her concept was sought after by other companies, but her foresight was aimed at making a bigger impact to create a wide range of shoes with the utmost comfort and quality that were still fashionable to attract an even wider market.
“In the Trinidadian and therefore Caribbean market, I wanted to make more shoes in which more women are adequately represented, which meant increasing the size and offering more variety. Because when buying shoes in the USA, most brands pay attention to the European size range. I started doing designs with different companies and that’s when I thought why not create a line for myself.”
Fate intervened, and she said that the “Jilly” brand, the flagship collection of shoes and accessories for women and children, was born.
“Shoeaholics has managed to maintain an affordable price point. Again, no one should be limited or even denied access to trendy, fashionable shoes unless they really can’t afford it. With my own brand, I adapted a sales strategy to create volume and sell,” explained Aimable.
On the occasion of the 10th anniversary, she opened the 10th branch in Jamaica in the middle of St. Andrew’s Sovereign Shopping Centre. The store officially opened on October 8 in the presence of Deryck Murray, High Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago for Jamaica, who praised Aimable for their “enterprising entrepreneurship”.
Everything from the “Jilly” brand is available on site.
“Jamaica is my lucky number 10. God circumcised me at the right time to have time to come here. When I went to Sovereign it wasn’t actually on the list of places but there were two retail spaces available where I saw the vision become a possibility,” she shared.
She also has plans to explore men’s shoe designs and hopefully launch a collection for them.
“You’ll hear me make comments like ‘I know shoes, I don’t know men,'” she laughed.
“[So] maybe that’s why I left it. But this market is neglected despite the wide range of brands for men’s sneakers and shoes, especially casual shoes. There is no in between. The plan is to consult with a few men on my radar; Find out what they think should be on the shelf. Customers are the heartbeat of what you do to stay fashion forward,” said Aimable.