January 8, 2024

Sal’s Shoes

Sal’s Shoes provides preloved shoes to children in need in the UK and worldwide. From a small seed in 2013, grew a mighty oak, with Sal’s having distributed 2.5 million pairs of shoes by 2021. While Sal’s had successfully kept pace with growing demand, the volunteer-led organisation knew it needed greater capacity to continue to grow and develop.

Using funding from The Fore, the founder CJ Bowry, then operating in a volunteer capacity, was able to leave her existing job in 2021 and devote herself full time as CEO. This provided the crucial capacity to focus on making the organisation more sustainable, via bolstering income streams to meet growing core costs, and planning for ongoing growth.

Having a full-time CEO has enabled a step change. In the past year Sal’s distributed over 1 million pairs of shoes internationally (vs. a planned 500,000) and over 75,000 in the UK (vs. a planned 50,000). This growth was matched in their income, bringing in £230,000, including from corporate partnerships, vs. their goal of £144,000.

While financial success is undoubtably down to the determination of the leader, CJ believes it would not have been possible without tapping into The Fore’s pro-bono network. We introduced her to finance expert Mark Tantum, a former Vice Chair at Deloitte, to help lay the foundations for rapid income growth and two years later he now Chairs the charity! CJ has described this support as “amazing”.

Since 2021, Sal’s growth has been stratospheric. To date they have distributed 5 million pairs of shoes in 60 countries.

In the 2024 King’s New Year’s Honours list CJ was awarded an OBE for services to Young People, to Education and to the Environment.