Indie Oxford Interview: Stellar Blue

 In Indie Oxford Interviews

I recently had the absolute pleasure of talking to Tania and Logan, the founders of Stellar Blue – a brand new company and member of Independent Oxford. Together, we talked about how the business came about, struggles in the industry and huge plans for 2025 and beyond. >>

Stellar Blue Oxfordshire kids shoes

Can you tell me a bit more about the business?

It still feels a bit surreal that just over 6 months ago I was working for a large multinational in the corporate world, and now I am working by myself and for myself!

I launched Stellar Blue on Christmas Eve last year, but I had been working on the business model for about twelve months before that while working as an accountant and looking after my two amazing boys, Benicio and Lucas, who are now three and 22 months. It is these two adorable people who inspired the business.

As a first time parent I began searching for my eldest son’s first pair of shoes. This is when I discovered just how complicated it is to choose the right shoes, and how little information is out there to support parents to make educated choices. Through this process I learned about the impact of choosing improper and ill-fitting shoes for young children and how the decisions you make about footwear can lead to long-term issues, including foot deformities and posture problems in adulthood.

I was born and grew up in Brazil where the biggest brands for kids’ shoes are brands that have been around for decades, and these brands focus exclusively on children and they are produced domestically. This is very different from the UK market, where the biggest brands do not focus exclusively on children’s shoes (and therefore do not invest in the crucial R&D that comes along with that) and their production and supply chains are typically based in South East Asia. Brazil is the fifth largest producer of footwear in the world by volume, but when it comes to sustainable environmental and labour practices, Brazil is second to none – head and shoulders above the rest.

In Brazil, Bibi is the leading brand amongst their thriving children’s footwear market and Stellar Blue has partnered with Bibi to bring their stylish and innovative range of footwear to the UK. Bibi pioneered the concept of anatomical and physiological footwear for children during a two year research programme conducted in conjunction with a leading university and specialists including paediatricians, physiotherapists, and orthopaedists. The outcome of this study was Fisioflex, footwear that is proven to mimic the sensation of walking barefoot.

The vision of Stellar Blue is simple. To provide parents and kids in the UK with access to Bibi’s stylish, sustainable and super-comfortable footwear. We have launched with over 50 styles, from trainers and sandals, to ballerinas and boots.

Stellar Blue

Has there been a stand out moment?

The best moment so far has been to hear the feedback from our customers when they have tried Bibi shoes. There is immediate recognition that they look and feel different from the brands that they are used to in the UK. Seeing their smiles and hearing they love Bibi as much as I do is very cool. Of course, launching the brand and going live with our website was a great feeling too, but nothing is better than delighting customers.

“I had to get my family to ship Bibi shoes from Brazil at first. Then I realised there was a business opportunity in it. That’s how Stellar Blue came about and I’m hoping others see this style of shoe is a game changer.”

Stellar Blue

How do you find the balance between eco/fair products and prices that customers are happy with?

This was a crucial part of our business planning, and I believe part of the value proposition that we offer. Bibi is a medium sized footwear business with annual production volumes of around 2.5 million. This is tiny compared to the big global brands who produce hundreds of millions or even billions of shoes per annum, but they have scale to offer highly sustainable and innovative products for a fair price.

Parents will find our prices similar to those offered by many of the common UK brands they are familiar with, but with peace of mind that every pair of Bibi shoes has been made with love and care in Brazil by employees that are paid well-above the minimum wage and with benefits such as childcare and family healthcare. They’ll also find that all leather is from sustainable sources in South Brazil and that 100% of production waste is recycled or reused, as well as being produced by 100% renewable energy sources.

What’s the biggest misconception parents have about their kids’ shoes?

Probably the biggest misconception is that kids need shoes as soon as they start walking. Research shows that children’s feet (as well as legs, gait and posture) develop naturally when they are barefoot. Parents should try and let their kids be barefoot whenever they can. Of course, there are many activities and places that require shoes and that is why parents should also look for shoes, especially in the toddler years, that are as close to being as barefoot as possible.

Another big misconception we have found is with shoe sizing. Parents will often have kids feet measured and get a shoe size for a particular brand and then stick to that shoe size. We looked at ten common shoe brands and found there was a 1 cm variation between brands for the same nominal UK size. All kids need to have wiggle room and growth room in their shoes. For toddlers this should be something like 1 cm to 1.4 cm. That is why we always advocate for measuring feet and then buying shoes from the measurement (using that brand’s guide) rather than relying on shoe sizes.

Stellar Blue blue sandals

What brought you to the Indie Oxford community?

As a new business we face a lot of challenges. Seeing the support offered by Indie Oxford was a huge draw for me. It’s amazing to be part of a community that understands the ups and downs of small businesses. Connecting with others at similar stages and those further along has been so valuable. I’ve met some incredible, inspiring people and the support has been fantastic. I’m so happy to be part of this community!

Stellar Blue kids by tree

Do you have any big goals or plans for the rest of 2024 and beyond?

We really want to develop a circular economy model that will further improve our sustainability, provide even better value for money for our customers and provide greater social value.

In Brazil, Bibi already reuses around 50% of raw material waste and the other 50% is recycled. Our vision is to facilitate the same approach into the retail consumer cycle by offering a loyalty scheme that allows our customers to return shoes to us when their kids have grown out of them in exchange for a store credit. This credit will lower the cost of the next pair of shoes they purchase from us which is great for our customers and this creates an ongoing investment in Stellar Blue that will allow us to continue developing and investing in partnerships that will ensure those returned shoes are either reused (through partnerships with charity stores in the UK and abroad), or if they are not of good enough quality to be reused, ensure that as much of the shoe material as possible is being recycled rather than ending up in landfill. We’ll also be looking to start other initiatives with local charities alongside the donations of £1 for every pair of shoes we sell.

What piece of advice do you have for those building or launching a new business in Oxford?

My advice is to connect with local communities like Indie Oxford. The networking in these groups provides invaluable support, insights and inspiration. Stay focused on your vision, keep things simple, be adaptable and prepared to try new things and try not to get distracted by the backlog of things that will inevitably start growing on your to-do list!

Stellar Blue has some great offers over on the website, including a 15% discount for first time buyers. Made in Brazil, run from Oxford, loved by kids around the world, we can’t wait to see them flourish. Follow them on Instagram and show them some Indie Oxford love!

Stellar Blue
Recent Posts

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Heal Oxford