Block heels, strong prints, metallic hardware and graphic silhouettes. These signature details have become synonymous with Kat Maconie, a designer whose brand is pushing the boundaries of footwear.
For Kat, playing dress-up as a child with her mother’s 70s costume jewellery and brightly coloured pumps inspired a dream to design extraordinary shoes. By the time she was 25, she had turned that dream into a reality.
Kat studied at the London College of Fashion and spent her early career working as a buyer for several UK fashion houses. After two years at Whistles, she started to get restless. “I was frustrated with the monotony of working in a corporate environment,” Kat recalls. “I wanted to do something different, that would reignite my passion and excitement for the industry.” So she left to work on her own designs.
In 2009, Kat launched her business with a vision of creating designer shoes that would have both wow-factor and wearability. By 2013, Drapers had named her Shoe Designer of Year – an award she won again in 2018. It all started with a small range of ballerina pumps, expanding into a high-end footwear brand stocked by more than 280 luxury stores worldwide.
Kat Maconie has achieved huge commercial success in the UK and USA with the biggest demand coming from the Middle East and Asia. Almost 90% of the company’s business now comes from export markets. ”We once sold $1m worth of shoes in an hour on a luxury South Korean home shopping channel,” comments Kat. “Callers waited on hold for 90 minutes to place their order, which really shows how receptive the South Korean market has been to our designs”.
Her experience as a buyer means that Kat is not only a creative designer but also business-minded with a deep understanding of the nuances of supply and demand. The growth of the business was rapidly accelerated in 2015 through Kat’s decision to outsource manufacturing to China.
In 2016, with manufacturing now outsourced and the bulk of their products being exported abroad, the length of their supply chain created gaps in working capital. The factories in China can take a deposit of up to 30% prior to manufacturing an order. From that point, it takes several months of shipping and distribution before the business finally gets paid.
Kat needed funding to bridge this working capital gap. Her first step was to approach her bank for an overdraft but the business was rejected as unprofitable. She then went to an alternative lender but was met with the same response.
Shortly after, Kat came across a MarketInvoice customer story that featured a fashion entrepreneur with similar challenges. “That was my first introduction to MarketInvoice and it was comforting to know that they’d helped a retail business similar to mine before. So I decided to give them a call”, Kat explains. “Imagine my surprise when it was the CEO who answered the phone!”
Fast forward to 2018 and we’ve been supporting Kat Maconie with invoice finance and business loan solutions for over 2 years. The funds cover upfront manufacturing costs and help get the business from one end of the supply chain to the other. Turnover has doubled every year for the past 3 years and is on track to do the same in 2018.
“From that first phone call, the service from MarketInvoice has always been great,” adds Kat. “It really helps being able to phone and speak to real people like Alex and Marina. I know them and they know my business, which makes everything quick and easy”.
There’s no slowing down for Kat as the business looks to increase their reach in the USA, Middle East and Asia. Following success in South Korea, the brand has also forged an exciting partnership with a local cosmetics company. Together, they’ll launch a new makeup line that incorporates bold colours and other signature details from Kat Maconie’s boundary-pushing designs.