International Dance Shoes Limited are a manufacturer of dance shoes based in Milton Keynes who export throughout the world. More specifically, they make shoes for Ballroom & Latin American dancing; to help better understand what type of shoes they are, think BBC’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ because they make shoes for the show!
The family business started in 1981 and is now run between a father and son – with the father/founder Rashmi still on the factory floor everyday, and son Justin taking care of the running and direction of the business. Over 70% of business is export with the top destinations for our shoes being the USA, Italy, Germany, Ukraine, Japan and China selling through distributors, directly to shops and directly to the dancer.
Continue reading to hear what they had to say about their Queen's Awards for Enterprise journey!
Why your business decided to apply for a Queen’s Award for Enterprise?
It’s such a prestigious award and the greatest recognition you can get as a British business. The endorsement of a Queen’s Award really elevates your business and brand, giving customers around the world that extra confidence that they’re working with people that are great at what they do. We’d had a few years of consistent growth and the year before I wanted to apply but simply had too much on at the time – I was confident that our business and what we’d been achieving would give us a really good case to potentially win.
Personally, it would be one of the greatest days ever to get to visit Buckingham Palace for the reception too – so I also wanted to go in for the award for that reason. In fact, nobody within the business knew about me applying. I thought we could win so simply wanted to surprise my Dad and tell him we’d won and that we’d be visiting Buckingham Palace.
What has winning the Award meant for your business and staff?
We had to tell the staff via phone/text as at the time we could announce it we had already closed the factory! So, it’s sad that we couldn’t share the joy of success together. Our celebrations were quite muted with a pizza delivery and a bottle of champagne for the five of us that have still been going in!
We’ve had customers throughout the world congratulate us and we couldn’t have done it without them. It’s means a lot to hear that they really do feel we have earned it as some of our distributors around the world have been working with us for the majority of the 39 years that we’ve been in business.
How will winning the Award benefit your business going forward?
We sell quite a premium product and customers around the world are already happy to pay a premium because they appreciate the quality of product and service that comes with a British made shoe and we hope that USP can only become stronger with such an endorsement.
Any advice you have for future Queen’s Award applicants.
You might look at it and think it’s quite a long application, so it can be easy to put off but don’t! Give yourself plenty of time and don’t rush it. Be really thorough and whilst I worked through it alone, you should work on it with a couple of colleagues – not just to share the workload but to make sure you’ve covered everything.
There are likely a lot of companies in a position now like us, where our chain of consecutive years of export growth will end as a result of coronavirus and we’d have been devastated if having a year of bad luck meant we’d no longer meet the criteria. If you’re in a good place now and feel like you can win – start completing your application now!