With 26 years of experience working in the corporate world for Nokia and living in the USA, Australia and throughout Asia, it’s fair to say Keith Harris has had plenty of life experience.
Returning to the UK in 2016 and following redundancy with another corporate business, Keith was pondering the next stage of his career, when he came up with the idea of a shoe shining business while on a fishing trip with his brother.
A shoe enthusiast himself, Keith established the Shoe Shine Project in 2017 with support from St Helens Chamber and Enterprise Hub and the business has gone from strength to strength.
Keith commented: “I researched the market and quickly realised there were very few companies around providing a quality shoe shine service and I saw this as a massive opportunity.”
Keith contacted St Helens Chamber at the inception of the company and benefited from business advice, training and business mentor support.
Keith continued: “I decided to join St Helens Chamber, not only for the advice and training on offer, but to also expand my network. The mentoring service from St Helens Chamber was particularly valuable as this provided a great sounding board for formulating ideas and strategy.”
Within 12 months, the company had secured business with many of the city region’s leading tailors, providing services for both their clients and at their events. The business has also established chairs and drop off points at The Crowne Plaza and The Barbershop, Dale Street, quickly becoming part of the fabric in the cosmopolitan city centre. However, it is the engaging and innovative services offered to business that have put The Shoeshine Project firmly on the map.
Keith explained: “Many companies have engaged us to provide on-site shoe shining services for their staff. It’s a great employee benefit, plus many companies like their staff to look good from head to foot.
“We have also had a great uptake on our trade show service, where we provide a traditional shoe shine chair and service on a customer’s exhibition stand. Essentially this is a lead generation service, as it really drives footfall, differentiates a trade stand and guarantees a captive audience at an exhibition.”
Keith, who has a masters degree in business studies, is looking to employ two staff before the end of the year and has plans to explore a franchise model for The Shoe Shine Project.
He adds: “We are bringing back the lost art of shoe-shining, but in a modern, innovative and entertaining way. Our focus is on interaction and engagement with customers, and we are excited about the journey ahead.”
St Helens Chamber is part of Enterprise Hub, the enterprise gateway for business start-up support in Merseyside. Offering expert advice and support to anyone thinking about starting a business including help to:
- Understand the process of starting a business
- Research a business idea
- Build a comprehensive business plan
- Develop a marketing plan
- Create financial forecasts to understand the costs of running your business and potential income
- Identify sources of finance to get started
For more information on the shoeshine project, please visit shoeshineproject.co.uk. To find out more about the support available from St Helens Chamber to start a business, call 0845 340 9980 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Enterprise Hub is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.