It’s no secret we love Frankie4 shoes around here, but when we met the dynamo behind the brand, we were in awe of just how motivated, brilliant, but also bloody normal she was. And when we meet rad birds, we want to share them with you.
Caroline McCulloch is a podiatrist and physiotherapist – an unusual background for a footwear designer, but one that works surprisingly well.
“My technical brain dukes it out with my style sensibility on a daily basis”, jokes Caroline. But it’s this very battle between Caroline-the-health-professional vs. Caroline-the-fashionista that defines FRANKiE4.
What was the best piece of advice you were given when you were starting out (and who gave it to you)?
From my husband who told me not to quit.
12 months into launching our first range we had a very reputable business man advise us to focus on our Podiatry Clinics and to walk away from FRANKiE4. He explained how the risks were too high, and that it was basically an unviable dream.
It was really difficult to hear because I had worked so hard and I was feeling particularly vulnerable as I had just had my first baby, a little being who was now dependant on me. I felt stupid and embarrassed that I had veered away from treating patients to do something that I was now worried put my family at such financial risk.
My husband, who is also a podiatrist, told me not to lose hope , and that he had absolute faith in what I was wanting to achieve. He kept telling me to focus on the positive feedback our patients were giving us on how the shoes felt. I still went to bed that night in tears. I woke at 2 am and it was as if I had been shot with adrenaline. I raced down stairs , grabbed a calculator and scribbled from top to bottom on a whiteboard calculations, sums and ideas of how I could make it work.
To this day I wish I had taken a photo of what I had written on that whiteboard, as it was ultimately what made the decision to continue with FRANKiE4.
What technology can you not do without?
My iPhone; it enables me to have video calls with my supplier, emails, check documents, etc.
Where do you find inspiration?
From women who look confident and happy.
How do you take time out for yourself?
I’m someone who likes to have time to myself for sure. Having a coffee solo in a coffee shop is good for the soul.
Who are your business heroes?
My parents; they’re from the land. Despite droughts, floods and all the other hurdles, they showed admirable resilience. My mum is a smart cookie.
How do you find peace in a busy day?
Dinner with my girlfriends, it’s always full of laughter and reminiscing. I always feel recharged after a catchup.
What advice would you give your younger self, when you were just starting out?
Definitely don’t quit! You’ll love where you are in a few years.
How do you start your day? (What time do you get up and what does your morning routine look like?)
I have a 4 year old, Max, and a 2 year old, Rose.
My day starts with them waking and calling out to us at around 6am. We all jump in the car, including our 2 fur kids , swing by the bakery and get a couple of scones for the kids and coffee’s for us. Then we head to the park and fling the frisbee for the dogs. This half hour together every morning helps me keep my work/life balance in check as I start the day with the most important people in my life.
Then I walk home from the park. This half hour walk gives me time to plan my day as I check through emails and update ‘to do’ list on my phone.
Who is in your posse?
My husband. He keeps me going, he keeps my wheels on, he’s kind, he’s supportive. I have two beautiful children because of him. This wouldn’t be as fun without him.
What are you proudest of in your career?
We get a lot of great feedback from women on how the shoes have improved their life. I want women to feel comfortable and confident in my shoes, so when we get ladies tell us how I have achieved that it keeps driving me to create each range. I get that I’m not a brain surgeon, but we get some pretty fantastic stories that we are making women happy.
I also have really great staff, sometimes when they’re doing their thing or helping me I look at them and think, ‘how did I get so lucky to have you work for me?’ I feel proud that I have a team of such quality people who chose my brand as their place of employment.