Published on

How One Mum Made £39m with Stylish Slippers

Side Hustles: How One Mum Made £39 Million with Stylish Slippers

We've all dreamt of starting a side hustle that could make us millions, but how many of us actually go through with it? First you need a good idea, then a strategy on how you are going to turn it into reality, and finally the ambition and drive to give it a go and see it through its journey.

For some it may fail to meet expectations, and not get off the ground as hoped, but for others it's the beginning of something new and exciting. This just so happened to be the case for Bianca Gates, a former Facebook employee turned slipper entrepreneur, who had a problem that led to a stylish solution.

Let's take a closer look and dive deeper into how she turned her idea into a multi-million-pound business, and why side hustles are becoming more and more popular.

How did Bianca's idea come about?

Bianca Gates, from California, noticed a lack of stylish, comfortable shoes to wear around her home when hosting guests, not wanting to continually wear just ordinary socks and slippers. In 2015, while working full-time, Bianca started making indoor slippers with her friend, Marisa Sharkey, on the side. This was the beginning of Birdies.

After later noticing people wearing them outside of their homes, and not just indoors like originally intended, they decided to expand their line. Two years later, Bianca quit her job to pursue Birdies full-time, with the pair investing £79,000 ($100,000) in production costs, leaving them nothing for advertising.

How did the brand grow?

The Birdies brand quickly took off once the slippers were being worn by celebrities. This meant that Gates and Sharkey's gamble paid off after they expanded their line to include flats, slides, and running shoes.

They stated that during the early days of the company, the shoes would disintegrate quickly because of their thin rubber sole; which was only really intended for indoor use. But thankfully, they later made the decision to upgrade their quality. They began using thicker, more adaptable soles making the shoes more hardwearing for outdoor use, resulting in their risk paying off big time!

How did they advertise their shoes?

With leaving no budget for any official advertising and marketing, it meant that the women had to get creative about how they were going to get their shoes seen and noticed. Bianca decided to start thrifty pop-up sales in her local area, which were a big hit on most occasions, and helped to grow the brand's popularity.

Additionally, Bianca used her networking skills and promoted the brand after spotting a celebrity at a local restaurant. She waited for said celeb outside of the restroom and pretended to run into her.

After chatting a little bit, she asked the celeb not to leave and said that she had their shoe size in her car. The interaction ultimately ended with Bianca giving her a pair of Birdies shoes, which led to the celebrity wearing them out quite a lot, helping to get them seen further after being photographed.

Overcoming the challenges

Gates openly admitted that the first year was challenging, but she pushed through and overcame the barriers by keeping her focus on creating new, stylish and comfortable footwear. Today, Birdies is valued at £111m ($140m), with further profitability in sight.

Her story of determination and creativity is a lesson for all aspiring entrepreneurs, offering a reminder that it takes hard work and a willingness to take risks to turn a good idea into a multi-million-pound business.

Why is the idea of starting a side hustle so popular?

The rise of the side hustle has been largely driven by the gig economy, with people now able to access online platforms and make money in shorter spaces of time.

Starting a side hustle can still be a viable option for those who want to start their own business and be their own boss, because it has reduced costs; meaning it is more within reach for the majority of those interested to be able to at least give it a try.

The option of having a side hustle, that is both enjoyable and flexible, and alongside a full-time job provides people with the ability to have financial freedom and extra income streams, which is more of a necessity in these current times.

What platforms are available to promote and advertise side hustles?

Nowadays, there are a plethora of online platforms that allow users to promote and advertise side hustles. Social media networks such as Twitter, Instagram and TikTok have become invaluable tools for entrepreneurs looking to reach potential customers, while Facebook Marketplace is also another great platform for selling your products or services.

Additionally, apps and sites like Etsy have long been an avenue for creative entrepreneurs to sell their handmade products, with the site now boasting over 60 million users. And for those looking for more niche platforms, websites such as Reddit and Product Hunt are great places to start. On Product Hunt in particular, people can submit their product or service, allowing them to access a community of enthusiastic potential customers.

How can podcasts and youtube help growing side hustles?

Podcasts and YouTube have become invaluable tools for entrepreneurs looking to promote their side hustles. Podcasts can be used to share stories, tips and tricks from the industry, as well as discussing and offering advice on business development.

Meanwhile, YouTube is a great platform for creating video tutorials or educational content around topics related to your business. Not only can this help educate potential customers and demonstrate that you are an expert in the field, but it also helps to create a following of people who are interested in what you have to offer.

Furthermore, YouTube is an effective way to build trust with your audience by showing them your products or services in action. In addition, podcasts and YouTube content can be used as a promotional tool to drive traffic to your website or direct potential customers to make purchases. Having both of these mediums at your disposal is an effective way to get the word out about your business and grow your side hustle.


Starting a side hustle is becoming increasingly popular and somewhat of a trend, as it gives people the opportunity to make money while they still have a full-time job. It can be daunting but with the right planning and resources, such as social media networks, apps and platforms, entrepreneurs are more likely to find success.

Additionally, podcasts and YouTube are great promotional tools for businesses, helping to build a following of potential customers and increase awareness on a grander scale, as they can reach vast amounts of viewers and listeners at one time.

With a brilliant idea, some hard work and dedication, anyone can start their own side hustle and turn it into a profitable business. So don't be afraid to take the leap – you never know what could happen and where it could lead!

Share this article
Avatar of Author

Article written by Dylan Moore

Dylan, originaly from Turkey, discovered his passion for programming and podcasting online. Him and his team later founded PodApp, a user-friendly platform designed to make podcasting accessible to everyone. Read more