Shaherazad Umbreen: Shoe Empowerment Officer

  Shaherazad Umbreen

Job Title: Shoe Empowerment Officer and also Head of Customer and Marketing at Co-op

Company: Shoes by Shaherazad

What does your company do?

It empowers women living in poverty to gain an education by selling luxury heels – women empowering women.

What does your role entail?

I am the founder of the brand and ensure that my company adheres to its brand ethos and continues to grow.  Essentially, I lead a team to create luxury heels so that women who can afford them are able to help women who can’t to gain an education and lift themselves out of poverty.  I do my Shoe.E.O. work in the evenings and weekends as during the day I am Head of Customer & Marketing at The Co-op.  My “evening job” is purely for charity and therefore I have two very challenging roles in my life!

What time do you wake up and what’s the first thing you do?

I wake up at 5.15 am every morning. The first thing I do is mentally skip through my outfits and decide what I’m going to wear (I work in fashion after all!), then I start my getting ready routine.  I resist the urge to check my phone as my first action as that is a slippery slope to losing control of the day.

What do you have to get done before you start work?

My reading plan for the day (I make sure I get mental down time by reading literature on the train – I find it’s really good for me to relax); my travel plans for the day and tickets (I often travel for work) and my meetings plan.

What time do you start work officially/go to the office and how does your day go from there?

I’m in the office at The Co-op by 8.15am, although I will have done quite a bit of work before I get in whilst waiting for the train on my phone.  My job is very much about leadership and strategy so I spend a lot of time with my team, approving initiatives and sponsoring projects.  Some days I can be in back to back meetings from 9am through to 6.30pm; and with no lunch break that means eating my porridge out of a coffee cup in a project meeting whilst negotiating marketing tactics.  A woman has to eat!

My day varies a lot but always include numbers and creativity all at the same time.  I’ve just finished signing off our Christmas advert for the Co-op where I work, and it’s the most inspiring video the team have done.  It feels truly Christmassy and Co-operative.  I normally plan my week so that structured meetings happen at the start of the week and then store visits or supplier visits towards the end of the week.  I spend time with my team each day which covers the departments of:





Design Studio

Corporate Responsibility


It’s a very broad role but equally has lots of specialisms so there’s always lots to get stuck in to. I love leading a creative team.

Lunchtimes normally involve a meeting of some sort over a jacket potato, and if it’s a particularly hard day there’s coffee and walnut cake too!  Delicious food always helps me to enjoy the day more!

What is the hardest thing about your working day?

Definitely the commute which is 4 hours per day.  That’s 14 hours per week which equates to the equivalent of 2 days at work!  This is why I read on the train as I feel the travel time must add value to my day other than getting me to and from work.

Which part of your working day do you enjoy most?

The 10 minute walk up the hill just before I arrive at Head Office.  I love the feeling of a fresh new day ahead of me – full of promise.

What time do you usually finish work and head home?

I leave at 5pm in order to get the 5.20 train.  When I get home I usually do another hour of Co-op work.  I used to be guilty of staying in the office until 8pm every day and I’ve realised there’s no need when you can work digitally nowadays if necessary.

Do you get to unwind once you’re there? If so, how?

No unwinding for me!  When I get home and I’ve finished my Co-op work, my shoe work begins.  It’s tough running a brand in your own time but I passionately believe in the cause as I feel empowering women and alleviating poverty are my personal purposes in life.  It’s tiring but I love it.

What would you say to anyone wanting to get into your industry?

So many people within the fashion industry have said to me that unless you have a background in fashion (which I don’t) then you won’t thrive in it.  But fashion is only 20% design and is actually 80% business.  So I would say to business women out there that if this is what you want then go for it.  Learn the bits that you don’t know along the way like I did.  I’m also happy to chat with people to provide support – women empowering women is “my thing” after all!

What’s the best way for people to get in contact with your business?


SharpLifeShaherazad Umbreen: Shoe Empowerment Officer

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