UEA grad proves Dragons wrong with ‘pimp my heels’ business
You wouldn’t think she did drama
A UEA grad is climbing the success ladder after making an appearance on Dragons’ Den.
27-year-old Charlotte, who graduated in 2009 with a 2:1 in Drama, featured on Dragons’ Den earlier this month with her product “ShoeLicks”.
Strutting on stage with a choreographed dance routine in true drama student fashion, Charlotte pitched her idea to the Dragons after eight hours of waiting in a green room.
Her product aims to “pimp your heels” for only £2.99. She said: “ShoeLicks gives your high street heels a unique, designer touch with original designed stickers for your soles to get the Louboutin look for less than a latte!”
She came up with the concept while voicing Mrs Rabbit for a Peppa Pig acting tour.
She said: “I noticed that Louboutin red soles were all over the red carpet. I loved the peacockability of it, but not the price tag.
“So I came up with the idea of having very good quality stickers that allowed you to have fun with your outfit with a range of classy, funky and quirky designs to suit all, but for only £2.99.”
But how did a drama grad know how to start her own business?
Charlotte explains: “I was given a business mentor by the government on their New Enterprise scheme, which is an initiative started by David Cameron to give people the opportunity to start their own business.
“It then took me about three months to set up properly to trade. I’ve now been working on it full-time when I’m not acting since January 2014.
“It’s literally the most perfect job to have between roles – much better than pulling pints like most!”
But it wasn’t so easy to get on the show: “I applied as a bit of a joke at first, but then I was contacted six months later. I went through four months of interviews and audition rounds before I was accepted.
“I was so incredibly nervous – you can see my legs shake in some of the shots! I was so keen to get my pitch word perfect that I came across a bit staged – and very English! I’ve had to watch it five times over to get over how cringey it is.
“You only get to meet the Dragons on camera and then you’re asked to leave the den straight away.
“While we were waiting to film during the day, we couldn’t even go to the toilet without a runner, to make sure there was absolutely no possibility of us bumping into any of the Dragons.
“They were a lot nicer than I expected, but I wanted to talk about the numbers more, as I had them all ready to go!
Charlotte was on stage for around 40 minutes, but viewers only saw ten minutes of the meatiest bits.
“It’s shot as you see it, but heavily edited of course! You don’t get to repeat anything in case you stumble, so it’s very much a one-take wonder, hence why you get people that are sweating with nerves sometimes.”
Charlotte didn’t get an offer from the Dragons. Peter Jones ridiculed her, asking: “Why don’t you just go and get some wrapping paper and cut it to size?”
Piers Linney told her to “follow the dream” before saying that her idea was not worth an investment.
But she’s proven them both wrong.
She said: “I didn’t think the Dragons would invest in a novelty quirky sticker company. But if they saw the Pimp Your Heels trend potential, then it could go global, especially as I’m now trialling in River Island and am in talks with ASOS, Topshop, Very.co.uk and many other high street chains.
“I’m now a lot further along the road, with the business growing each month. We’re selling ShoeLicks in Jarrolds! We’re in River Island, the Design Museum, Fenwicks stores as well as around 40 independent retailers and department stores around the UK, Europe and New Zealand.
“We’ve pimped 6000 heels thus far, and we’re hoping for big things this year!”
“I only needed £1000 to set ShoeLicks up and then I’ve been spending turnover money, keeping the money in the business.
“Make sure you don’t forget to trademark your brand before you let your website go live, as you wouldn’t want to open yourself up for copy cats.”
When at UEA, Charlotte was the President of the Minotaur Theatre Group. She said: “UEA was such a warm, inviting place to experiment – we were taught to just go for it and try. Which I’ve definitely done – and now to eight million viewers on the BBC.”
And ShoeLicks has many famous fans.
“We have gifted them to Laura Mvula, who apparently really likes them, as well as Millie Mackintoch.
“We were asked to be in the goodie bags for TOWIE’s Amy Childs’ latest clothing line launch party – herself, Grace Andrews and Gemma Collins love ShoeLicks!”
Charlotte may have set up her own company, but it’s still her dream to act.
“If anyone asks what I do, I will always tell them acting first and foremost, as I only set ShoeLicks up to fund my lifestyle while I audition for the next acting role.
“When I’m treading the boards, I have to be really on it, by replying to emails in lunch breaks and working after rehearsals.”
You can buy ShoeLicks from the website.
“We have a Dragons’ Den Deal on to get 20 per cent off when you buy four or more with the code: pimpmydragon.
“They’ll look great in the LCR and for this summer’s grad ball.”