In Conversation: Ops&Ops Founders Teri Olins and Steph Jones

American Teri Olins and  British Steph Jones, first met in London, united by their passion for music. The duo spent years traveling the world, playing in bands, running clubs, working in vintage stores and curating projects, before landing back in London as journalists. From that first encounter, their similar tastes and interests led them to become close friends.

Years later, in the spring of 2015, Teri and Steph were at an underground rock’n’roll basement club dancing till dawn. At that moment, they realized that finding the right shoes matching their late nights and working days was almost impossible. The following Sunday afternoon at a friend’s birthday bash, they decided to join forces making their own perfect moccasin. Ops&Ops was conceived.

The Beginnings

Teri and Steph never worked in the footwear industry or in fashion before. But their lack of experience never held them back. Thanks to their clear idea of what they wanted and how they wanted it, in just a few weeks they had a name, a design and were already looking for a partner factory. They found a small family run company in Portugal and soon they were on a plane heading to meet them. The match was instantaneous and they were ready to produce their very first model, the “No. 10 flat” in four colors. But prior to launching the label, they encountered their first big challenge.

NO. 10 flats in Bardot Black

“We had an issue with our brand name when we were ready to get to the market, therefore, it hit us right at the beginning,” Teri explains. Originally Op&Ops (inspired by the Op Dance, popular in the ’60s), they had to change the trademark due to infringements. The issue was dealt with the prompt help of an intellectual property lawyer. From that moment, Op&Ops became Ops&Ops. Teri comments: “It was costly but not as bad as it could have been”. Now, they were ready to start.

Opening the Store

By 2016, Ops&Ops had a website, had participated in trade-shows, and almost instantly gained interest in the press both in the UK and in the US. The attention they received at the beginning, as Teri explains, was a very natural process. “People started asking to borrow our shoes for shootings”. One example overall: a simple call from a stylish and they send some samples to New York. The shoes then appeared multiple times in the tv show “Girls” on the feet of Hanna, played by Lena Dunham.

The brand continued to grow, introducing new models and colors. But the biggest challenge came in 2017 when they opened their shop on Redchurch Street. “We are proud to still being in business and having a shop,” Teri says. This allows the brand to fully control its exposure while being present both online and offline. Talking to customers and seeing their instant reactions in the shop is also what keeps the duo excited.

Entrepreneurship

Their advice on jumping into the world of an entrepreneur? “Don’t doubt yourself too much. It’s good to question your motives and abilities, but lacking self-confidence will get you nowhere.” Teri says.  “Research the hell out of the sector you’re entering and don’t even think about starting without a structured business plan. The British Library was a brilliant resource for us – and there is a ton of info on the internet. Also, be prepared to do the boring work, – calculating VAT is nothing like as fun as designing – handle stress and make mistakes. Just be sure to learn from them.” Teri concludes.

Ops&Ops shoes are stylish yet versatile and comfortable, Teri and Steph are inspired by the ’60s club scene, making a shoe with a retro-cut and color palette inspired from fashion, art film, and architecture from that decade. You can visit them at 67 Redchurch Street, London or alternatively at their website.

 

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