NICK COOPER, founder of Stamp Shoes, lives in Northampton and creates beautiful bespoke footwear from his own designs.
After my religious studies degree I tried admin at a charity in London but didn’t last long! I ended up moving back to my parents in Shropshire and shelf filling at a supermarket. At this point I asked myself, “What do I really want to do?” I arrived at ‘craft’. I ended up moving to the 'shoe capital' of Britain, Northampton, to learn about shoes. I wanted to create my own set-up as soon as I could, make the designs that I wanted to make and then work out how to generate money from it! Nothing happened for about a year, but then I found a workshop space at the Innovation Centre in Northampton University. I bought a little bit of machinery and some materials and started experimenting. It's all taken off from there.
3 THINGS SETTING UP STAMP SHOES HAS TAUGHT ME
1. Don’t give up your day job until you’re established. Go part-time if you can and develop your passion alongside your other work, or at the weekends. Start your business gradually and slowly scale back your hours of employment when you know you can.
2. I never set a goal of making even a single penny. It was daunting setting up a business so I set my goals fairly low. I just wanted to have a complete shoemaking workshop and create a collection of shoes I was happy with, with designs that I’d wear myself.
3. If you’ve never done it, go and stay in a monastery for at least a week, even if you’re sceptical of religious belief. Every summer I go and stay with some monks in the Burgundy countryside. It’s perhaps the only time when I feel completely safe and fully myself. The monks do ‘simple’ on a daily basis and in a way that enables people to experience a complete and lasting joy.
Read more about Nick in our regular series, Beyond The Nine-to-Five in issue 20 of The Simple Things.