Blue Shoe is thirty years old this month. It all began in 1993.
Fast forward thirty years. Frances—who has been at Blue Shoe for the last nine years and leads a lot of what we do—and I have spent considerable time mulling over what the next thirty years should include. So much has changed in the world. My personal interests have also changed, and the amount of time that this company spends on those issues—women’s collaboration, film and tv reviews, backgammon, books—made it clear that we
needed to regroup.
So, right after Labor Day (hope springs eternal), we will launch our New Blue, Blue2, and we can’t wait to share our future—and what we think will be your future at that time. Until then, for the next month, we are going to celebrate and marvel at some of the amazing things Blue Shoe Strategy has had the honor and pleasure of calling our legacy, along with some of the lessons learned for the tomorrows yet to come.
For those of you who have been with us for years, or are curious about a woman starting a business 30 years ago, we invite you to read on to learn a little bit about our history.
We thank you all for being part of our family, and we look forward to your input and thoughts on the future as we prepare to roll out Blue2.
1993. I was newly divorced. I’d had an illustrious career as the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for the largest accounting firm in the world, Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co., before leaving to marry H2 (my second husband) and to have a child, the fabulous Sarah, about whom I’m not allowed to write. Seven short years later I was divorced again, and I thought I would be able to get back into corporate America, back into the C-Suite where I’d left off. Silly me. I realized immediately that, as a newly single mother of a seven year old, I couldn’t do the eighteen hour days and have a child. My friend, Bernice Kanner, who had a marketing column in New York Magazine, had told me that between a husband, children, and a career, you can have two of those three things, but not all three at the same time. What she didn’t tell me is that with certain careers, like those in corporate America, you can really only have the one. The demands of the job just don’t work when you have small humans in your charge; the flexibility we needed just wasn’t an option back then. If you haven’t watched the 1987 movie Baby Boom, with Diane Keaton, do yourself a favor and watch the scene where she leaves the baby at the coat check because the sitter didn’t work out. The struggle was real, people.
So, I felt my only option was to start a company that would give me the flexibility I needed. At the time I was already on the internet, on CompuServe, as a forum manager on women’s issues. I knew that it was all going to explode—that email was the new phone call, and that every company was going to be on there eventually, although I didn’t realize to what extent.
I’ve always been more of a jet skier-type, racing around from this to that, rather than the Titanic, slow-and-steady kind of person, so it made sense to me to start a marketing consultancy and take advantage of the internet boom, growing and changing along with it. I wanted to specialize in this new frontier, where competition didn’t really exist yet. Thus, Blue Shoe Strategy was born. When someone at a dinner party asked me why I named it Blue Shoe Strategy, I told them it was because shoes and marketing have nothing to do with each other, so you won’t forget the name. It will stay with you. Two years later, Amazon was launched—another company with a name that has nothing to do with the actual business. So there we were: Amazon and Blue Shoe. I think it worked for both of us.
That’s our history in a nutshell. It’s been fun to revisit it.