I’ve Been Hooked By Shoes Of Prey

Editor’s Note: Sales Marketing Manager Leslie Hitchcock is a non-editorial TechCrunch employee. In addition to working at TechCrunch and being super fashionable, she reviews startups and tech products occasionally on her personal blog, Leslie Just Joined.

Two of my favorite things are shoes and tech. That a site exists which combines both…well, where do I sign up?

Shoes of Prey is an Australia-headquartered startup where women (sorry, fellas!) can create shoes of their own design, which are then custom-made to order and delivered within five weeks of conceptualization. Shoes of Prey came to fruition out of the premise that somehow women compromise when searching for the perfect shoe out in the wild; that our ultimate dream shoe lives somewhere inside of us, just waiting to come out. I can get on board with this!

Until recently I hadn’t heard of Shoes Of Prey – most of their business still comes from outside the U.S. But I was given a gift certificate for a free pair of shoes by a friend, and that’s not something I’m going to pass up.

My experience with Shoes of Prey was incredibly positive. While it was slightly overwhelming to begin designing (so many options!), once I settled down and carefully considered the type of footwear I’d want to add to my collection (and it is a collection) the process became easier. What was missing among the shoes I have in rotation was a bright color in a shorter heel than I typically wear. With this in mind, I set about designing.

On Shoes Of Prey, the shoe style possibilities are endless: sandals, pumps, flats, skimmers, brogues (added as an option recently), booties, wedges, platforms. After you decide on the style of shoe, then the true customization begins. Shoes of Prey invites you to consider the details: peep toe, spectator heel, D’Orsay pump, slingback. And more. Heel type and height: stiletto, wedge, block heel. And more. Decorations: bows, trimming, Mary Jane’s. And more. The fabric: patent leather, soft leather, cotton blend, animal hair (sorry I’m not sorry, PETA), snakeskin. And more.

See what I mean by “slightly overwhelmed” and “endless possibilities”? There are lots and lots and lots of choices. Shoes of Prey doesn’t scrimp on options for one’s perfect bespoke shoe. And yet, where there is room for improvement is actually in the details. You might think that’s not possible based on the previous paragraph, but details like grommets, studs, bows, stitching, and different placement of shoe accoutrements are what give non-Shoes of Prey footwear an advantage over these custom-made kicks.

Back to my shoes. After I submitted the order in early April, the reality of bespoke footwear sunk in: “Your shoes will be delivered by May 8, 2012.” For someone significantly lacking in patience, like me, this was depressing news. However! It went really quickly and by the time they were delivered, I had almost forgotten about them. They were even early! But I won’t forget about these shoes any time soon. They are amazing.

When paying between $180-$300 for custom shoes from the site, attention to detail is significantly more important. Where Shoes of Prey excelled was in attentive customer service. I received notice from the site that my “beautiful shoes” (their words) were being delivered and surprisingly the next day DHL waltzed them into my office. (I may or may not have squealed and texted someone that they’d arrived. I get excited about these sorts of things). I’m a discriminating footwear customer and as such I was immediately charmed by the packaging and inclusion of an array of comfort enhancing accessories like cushions for the ball and heel of one’s foot. That Shoes of Prey supplies these items and didn’t force me to buy them myself was a really thoughtful move.

Perfectly timed, my order arrived on the day I was leaving for a vacation. Not one to shy away from a challenge, I immediately put them on and walked them through two airports with nary a blister. For the uninitiated, this is the highest form of a shoe compliment, typically reserved for high-end footwear like Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin. My new shoes also received tons of passing comments on how fabulous they are, naturally.

Revisiting my above disclaimer: a gift certificate may have alerted me to the Shoes of Prey, but I have at least three pairs that I’ve been customizing for my imminent forthcoming order. The only trouble is narrowing down which pair to pull the trigger on. But then again, when have I ever shown restraint in the shoe department? I think I’ll take all three!