Today we caught up with Lawrence, the founder of Shu Da, who gave us an insight into the brand’s story and how it came to life back in 2019. Lawrence now sets his sights on the next phase of the brand’s journey as he talks sustainability, manufacturing and the new exciting Shu Da ranges yet to come…
How did your journey with footwear begin?
By accident really! I graduated in Chemical Engineering from Leeds University but didn’t enjoy it or want to pursue a career in engineering, so I took a job in a small town near Leeds working as a management trainee for a manufacturing company making slippers and bags in the UK for Marks and Spencer.
I only expected it to last as long as it took to decide what career I wanted to follow. I ended up staying there for 17 years, including moving to work in the London office and later setting up and running the Asia sourcing office based in Hong Kong.
What inspired you to create Shu Da? What does Shu Da stand for as a brand?
I have worked my whole career in retail supply – working with many of the best and most well-known high street brands, initially working for other companies and later with my own company.
I have sourced and supplied products from Europe, the Sub-Continent and all over the Far East and was actually one of the pioneers in moving production out of the UK and into the Far East back in the 1980’s.
In recent years, I have become a little frustrated and upset by the culture of throwaway fashion and the damage it does to the environment, not to mention my contribution to it over the years. I never supplied low cost, discounted or low spec product but even so I felt I wanted to start to push for change.
I started to introduce recycled fabrics into our products and to push retailers to use them. However, there was a reluctance to pay a little more for sustainable products and so I decided to start my own brand whereby I could make decisions and try to encourage more change. I hope this can eventually include moving production back to the UK and Europe in the future so that I can reverse the decline in local manufacturing.
How would you describe Shu Da in a few words?
It really is the most comfortable, luxurious and sustainable fashion product on the market and each season that passes allows us to increase the brand’s sustainable credentials so that our aim of a 100% locally made, fully sustainable product can be achieved.
Why is now the time for Shu Da to exist?
It is never too late to do the right thing! Also, the recycled and biodegradable fabrics/outsole technologies are more advanced now.
What feedback have you had so far from customers?
Entirely positive feedback regarding the comfort and wear-ability of Shu Da products. Also, we always aim to provide top of the range customer service which is much appreciated by our customers.
What is your favourite Shu Da slipper to date and why?
I don’t have a single favourite really! My favourite Shu Da slipper will be the first slipper we make that is fully sustainable! in whatever way that can be done.
What does sustainability mean to you? Why was it important to you to make Shu Da a sustainable brand?
Sustainability means aiming for zero negative impact on the environment and on people in whatever way this is measured. So this can be clean electricity, ethically sourced manufacturing, local sourcing of materials and manufacturing, fully recycled or biodegradable materials, extending product use and avoiding products ending up in landfill for thousands of years.
What can we expect to see in the next 12 months for Shu Da?
Exciting new ranges for Autumn/Winter 2022 and a much wider distribution over the whole country. Hopefully the first UK manufacturing starting up and some new locally sourced gift products.
Where would you like to see the brand in the next 10 years?
I would like to see it as the most recognisable and popular fully sustainable slipper and lifestyle brand in the UK, as well as extending our product categories into night wear, leisurewear clothing and accessories….the world is our oyster!