Meg Roebuck knows success is not a solo sport. Having a strong support system has been key to the staying power of Shoefly, the Homewood boutique she’s owned and operated since 2003.
When she and her then-business partner Janna Rome first opened Shoefly, which only sold shoes at the time, they connected with some shoe store owners in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for guidance. Now the sole owner of Shoefly, Meg relies on her store manager, staff, and family to keep the business going and growing.
While so many other brick-and-mortar retail shops have shuttered during economic ups and downs, for nearly 20 years Shoefly has continued to be a go-to spot for shoes, clothing, and accessories for Birmingham-area women of all ages. We talked with Meg about the growth of her business, balancing entrepreneurship with family, and why teamwork really does make the dream work.
How has Shoefly evolved over the years?
We were just shoes for the first five or six years. We would have bags and jewelry, but really no clothes at first. We started adding clothes about seven or eight years in. We wanted to offer the whole package for outfits.
What sets Shoefly apart from other boutiques?
Our employees and the personal connection with our customers that we build. We have customers/friends now who come in at least once a week just to visit and see what’s new. We try to really separate ourselves and go above and beyond. If you’re looking for a black dress, as stuff comes in, I’ll text you if you’re open to getting texts. It’s about just doing extra stuff as you would for a friend.
What do you believe has been the key to your success as a business owner?
It’s who we appeal to. We have always said we want this to be a place where you can come in with your mom, and you both can find something. I have a 16-year-old daughter now, so it’s cool to see her pick out something and wear it in a totally different way than how I would. We have people coming in from 14 years old to in their 60s, and they’re all able to find something.
I think, too, that success comes when you surround yourself with good people, when you enjoy who you work with and trust them. I have a wonderful manager named Gina Budny. It’s also important to be able to pivot as things happen.
How did you pivot when the pandemic hit?
When we had to shut down for six weeks, it forced us to get on Instagram and do [Instagram] Lives, and now that’s a regular thing for us. You just have to find creative ways to adapt as the environment changes. Now we try to do a weekly Instagram Live on Tuesday or Wednesday night to highlight new items that have come in. My manager Gina and I will talk about what’s come in, share if there’s a cool story or cool designer, and suggest how you could wear it. It’s a really easy way to let people know what has come into the store rather than just posting pictures. And I have to say I’ve been recognized a few times out in public by people who say, “I see you on your Lives.” That’s fun!
Are there certain types of shoes, accessories, or clothes you think every woman should have?
That changes over time. Right now, one thing that immediately comes to mind is a good pair of lifestyle sneakers because people are wearing those with jeans, dresses and everything else. But in general, I think always a good blazer is great because you can dress it up or dress it down with a graphic tee and jeans. And you need good denim, and that depends on your body type. So, if you have trouble figuring that out for yourself, it’s worth working with a friend or stylist to really find your style of denim.
What advice would you give aspiring female entrepreneurs?
Make sure you have a good support system around you with friends and family but also with other female business owners. I have friends locally and in other cities who own businesses, and having that sounding board is key.
My biggest struggle looking back has been the balance between being a mom and having a business — especially with retail. Our customers expect us to be open. So I’ve had to really work on getting to a good place of making sure I give time to my kids and give time to the business.
How have you found that balance between business and family?
Oh, there have been tears! But I’ve been very lucky in that my husband has always supported the idea of Shoefly. In the early days, he came up here and worked or changed light bulbs.
As for the kids, it changes as the time of your life changes. I remember the first time I went to market in Atlanta after having my oldest, I was so upset to have to leave. But I will always remember my business partner at the time saying to me, “Meg, you will be a better mom for having that time away.” She was right. You get that break. You focus on your business, and then you come back and it makes you appreciate your family even more.
Lately, with them getting older – I have a 13-year-old and 16-year-old – I think getting them involved in the business helps because you’re doing it together, and they see you working. Just the other day when we were doing inventory, my 16-year-old and one of her friends came up and helped us do a deep clean. She’s even come to market with me a few times. That’s fun and that bonds us. But having good employees allows me also to carve out time to just focus on experiences with my family and not be at work.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I like to spend time with friends and family. I love being outside by the water at the beach or the lake. I love to go walk around and see what other small businesses are doing. Our street in Homewood is great because you have a little bit of everything. And I do think A’mano in Mountain Brook Village is really cool. It’s really colorful and perfect if you need a unique gift item — coffee table books, wine glasses, games. My sister moved to Nashville recently, and I love to go and see the different shops there, too.
What have you been watching or listening to lately?
I just caught up on “Yellowstone,” and I love the Heather McMahan podcast [Absolutely Not!]. Whenever I’m driving to Atlanta for market or in the car by myself, I listen to that. She’s pretty funny. And I like “Emily in Paris.” It’s a fun thing to watch for the clothes and the scenery.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Choose joy. Wake up every morning and choose joy. It’s simple, but it affects your whole day and everything you’re doing and who you’re doing it with.
Other than faith, friends, and family, name three things you can’t live without.
My reading glasses, the beach, and wine.
Thank you, Meg! To learn more about Shoefly, visit their Instagram page. All photography by Shoefly Manager Gina Budny.
To meet more inspiring Birmingham women, check out our FACES archives.