Shoe Shop Stories: Big on Shoes, Australia

Updated by Janine

Shoe Shop Stories highlights independent large size shoe stores from all over the world. This time I'm chatting with Melissa, founder of Big on Shoes. This Australian shoe store has been helping women with big feet for over a decade. Now they even have their very own shoe brand too. Read on to find out more & get your exclusive PBS discount code.

When did you set up Big on Shoes and why?

I guess Big On Shoes has always been in the back of my mind since I was a teenager. I don't think I ever understood where I was going to go with the idea back then. But I knew I hated not having an option for shoes and the impact it had on me growing up. I knew it had to change.

I started setting up Big On Shoes officially in 2009 when I got to the point of being so frustrated with not being able to buy shoes. While I was on leave with my first baby, I decided to dive headfirst into researching a solution for those of those of us with larger feet to feel great.

I never set out for us to be a shoe design business too. Initially I wanted to offer women an amazing online experience and that remains our core focus today.

Big on Shoes founder Melissa wears size 13 AU/US (45 EU) shoes
Big on Shoes founder Melissa wears size 13 AU/US (45 EU) shoes

Which shoe sizes do you stock and where do you ship to?

Our shoe range goes from sizes 5-16 Australian/US (36-47 EU). We do have a retail store but online is our biggest market and we ship worldwide.

Currently most of our orders are for Australian customers but our growing international side is so exciting. New Zealand is our 2nd most popular country, followed by Papua New Guinea, Europe and the US.

Sizes 11-13 AU/US are the most popular, followed closely by size 8-9. We find our customers vary so much - from our fashion lovers to our ladies with hard to fit feet who need length and width on their side. Then of course there's our transgender tribe which has been with us since the very beginning.

Do you find more shoe brands offer a wide range of sizes now or is most of your large-size stock still from specialist brands?

We have built some beautiful relationships with our brands over the years. We've continued to push for brands to offer more and more size-inclusive ranges and every season it gets better. Nearly all our brands go smaller and bigger.

There are some styles that we choose to only get larger sizes in and vice versa. We always focus on making sure the fit is what it needs to be for customers. So if we think the fit in larger sizes won't hit the mark we may only select it in smaller sizes and the same goes for larger sizes only.

This Winter we had 85% of our range fully size-inclusive (my dreams are still coming true!).

You launched your own shoe brand Jacob & Therese in 2019. What makes it different?

Melissa & Katie on the launch day of their Jacob & Therese shoe brand
Melissa & Katie on the launch day of their Jacob & Therese shoe brand

We had been looking at this for a VERY long time. I had actually started looking into this with factories back when I first founded Big On Shoes but the time was not right so it sat there in the background.

When we finally got the pieces of the puzzle to come together, it just felt right. So we went for it and found a really great factory to work with. We had such a great understanding of the gaps that we could not fill for our customers with our other brands. That was our key driver.

What we do differently with Jacob and Therese is that we are 100% focused on providing the fit that we can't find with other brands - be that width, style, size or, most importantly, adjustability. This has evolved over each season but we want to make sure our sandals and heels are the right shoes for ladies that can never find a right shoe.

What do you enjoy most about running a shoe store & brand?

That every single day is different and has a new challenge. Sometimes I do just wish that one day was the same as the day before so I could have a routine, but at the same time this is what I love most about it.

What's your biggest challenge?

Without a doubt Covid was the biggest hurdle I have ever faced as a small business owner and the complete uncertainty that was that period.

Overall, we were so lucky with how we came through it but I don't think I have ever been through such a stressful period. Having grown the business over all the years and having such a great team added to the pressure as my decisions affected so many other people.

Finally, which 3 styles best sum up what Big on Shoes is all about?

For me this is so easy:

  1. Mintie is my staple for Big On Shoes and is our sneaker with a twist (hidden wedge that makes them so comfy to wear)
  2. Riley is all our hard work coming together in having a fully size-inclusive sandal that has the ultimate adjustability.
  3. Lacey is our comfy lace-up heel that can be dressed up or down and adjusts to give narrow and wide feet the perfect fit.

Exclusive Pretty Big Shoes discount code

Here's a special offer just for Pretty Big Shoes fans: get 10% off at Big On Shoes with code PBS10.

Many thanks to Melissa for taking part in Shoe Shop Stories. You can check out the full range of shoes & boots online at BigOnShoes.com.au. The team are happy to advise on fit and styles if you need any help. You can even book a one to one consult.