Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My job as a shoe developer

As a lot of you may know, I was unemployed for a while after moving to Topeka for my husband's job. It wasn't too long after that I basically got the job of my dreams.


About 2 months ago I was interviewed by a temp agency in Topeka called Key Staffing. The whole situation was just odd because I did not understand the temp process at all. Come to find out, temp agencies are often the "HR Department" of small companies, and set up temp work for talents they see fit.

A few weeks after my interview with the temp agency, I was told I got an offer with BDI Co, a shoe company here in Topeka.

Not going to lie, it sounded WAY too good to be true. They didn't even interview me and wanted me to start in like 3 days. I also couldn't google the name of the company, which just looked sketch!

Still, I basically had no other options so I decided to take the job I knew nothing about.

My first day they explained exactly what the company does -Basically they sell shoes direct from factory to major corporations in the US, normally under other "branded" labels.

An example of a branded label is Sonoma, found at Kohl's. Kohl's owns Sonoma, and buys from companies like BDI to produce shoes under this label. Are you lost yet? :-)
(one of our Sonoma styles)
Not every pair of Sonoma shoes at Kohl's is designed by us, but a large percent is.

Not only do we do sell under other labels, but we have an exclusive brand of our own as well: AirSpeed. AirSpeed is a skate line carried in every Walmart store around the nation.

So after I got this little explanation, they took me out to the stores themselves and showed me the shoes the company had designed.

I could not believe an office of NINE people designed shoes for MILLIONS of people! It was the STRANGEST THING to come back to the office and sit RIGHT NEXT to the guy that designed the exact shoes I saw in a gigantic store like Walmart.

my desk

So for my first month or two at BDI Co I did a lot of administrative work -planning business travel for the CEO, updating AirSpeed social media, shipping shoe samples, and tracking expenses. It was around this time I became a full time employee, not just a temp.

Later I became the team manager for our AirSpeed professional skateboarding team, organizing marketing for pro skaters like Brian Sumner. Believe it or not, I saw Brian in an "I Am Second" video HERE just a few months before moving to Topeka. Small world!

The past 2 weeks are when things started to get really crazy.

Our company went under some re-organization and I was given a new role: Product Development Coordinator. AKA MY DREAM JOB.

I now get to travel around the country to shop markets and determine trends for Spring/Fall development.


Within the next year I will shop fall trends in Denver, Chicago and more. Even to CHINA to see how production works.

Stinkin' awesome!

I even get to name shoes! If I love you I may name a shoe after you by surprise.

Other fun things: Today my boss told me to go to Barnes and Noble and buy as many fashion magazines as possible to study. YES!

Through research in popular markets and materials like magazines, I will learn to determine patterns and present them to buyers from Walmart, Kohl's, Dick's Sporting Goods, Academy, Shoe Shoe etc.

It's pretty intimidating.

I'm so thankful the owner of the company is putting so much time into training me to understand the industry better and become an expert. He is the most experienced man I will ever get the chance to learn from, I'm sure.

It's taking a lot of time to learn and grow, but I am SO thankful it's a career path I'm interested in.

My all time goal after graduating college was to be a sales rep for a beauty or fashion industry. I'm not quite sure I could come any closer to that goal!

Other questions you may be wondering:

-Do you get free shoes? No. We work with companies who buy by the thousands. Sometimes hundreds of thousands. Since they go straight from the factory to the company directly, I do not get free shoes. HOWEVER, sometimes we have extra samples and they are always in a women's size 6 :-(

-Do you get to design the shoes? Not really. I get to help determine the development details such as colors or ornamentation, but I do not actually create the line drawings/CADs in Adobe In Design. We have design artists who went to school for that.

-What is your degree in? Communications with a minor in Business Administration

A jumbo shoe we use for marketing! HA!!


  1. Katie! I am so happy for you! I have a minor in Textile & Apparel Management and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the world you are entering. Who knew you would find a shoe-heaven & awesome career opportunities in KANSAS. I feel this is the appropriate time to say: God is good! Maybe you can become an advocate for fashion in the midwest! I think people need to realize that good fashion doesn't have to come from east/west coast. Heck, The Buckle has their headquarters in Nebraska!

    1. Yes! God is SO good! I only wish I would have gotten a minor like yours! It would be SO helpful in this industry. And you are right...Topeka Kansas is definitely not the spot I planned to find a job like this. I really didn't expect to find much of ANYTHING here ;-) Thankful to have opportunities I don't deserve!

  2. That is a dream job! That is an amazing opportunity and congrats!

  3. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?? Katie this job is all sorts of amazing!!! Congrats on it all. Say hey when you visit Chicago :)

  4. I would love to look at your glossy fashion magazines Katie as I am addicted to glossy womens bibles in fashion.


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