Welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview with Anna Elshafei, the brilliant mind behind Shaffay, a brand revolutionizing luxury slippers for women.
In this captivating discussion, Anna takes us on her incredible journey from being a lawyer in China to becoming a trailblazing entrepreneur in the world of fashion.
Driven by her passion for elegance and her unwavering commitment to comfort, Anna identified a gap in the market for slippers that seamlessly blend style and relaxation. This realization sparked her determination to create a brand that would redefine the concept of at-home elegance.
Through meticulous craftsmanship and collaborations with talented designers, Anna brought Shaffay to life. Each pair of Shaffay slippers embodies clean lines, soothing colors, and unmatched comfort, offering women a truly luxurious experience within their own homes.
Join us as we explore Anna Elshafei’s entrepreneurial journey, delve into the essence of Shaffay’s unique appeal, and discover how she is reshaping the landscape of home fashion for women everywhere.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Anna Elshafei: I have spent most of the last 20 years as a lawyer in law firms in China. China was my first interest and I studied Chinese at university. Law came after, really as a way to put my Chinese language skills to use.
Before going into law, I had lived in Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. As a lawyer, I lived and worked in Hong Kong and Shanghai. These are five very different cities and all of them are fascinating. When I became fed up with working in law firms, I decided to stop and go freelance.
That gave me the space to travel and spend more time with family and also to start working on an idea that had been germinating in my mind for a while. That idea became Shaffay, my brand of luxury slippers for women.
The idea to start my own slipper brand arose from the simple fact that I could not find the sort of slippers that I wanted: luxurious but not outrageously expensive and, most importantly, with a touch of elegance.
Nothing on the market quite came up to the mark. I worked with a shoe designer in the UK and a workshop in China to design and make Shaffay’s first collection of slippers.
They have the clean lines, soft colours and comfort that I had been looking for for years. Much of this work was done during the pandemic, while I was in the UK. I launched Shaffay at the end of 2021.
Shaffay is all about looking and feeling elegant at home. How we look affects how we feel, even when we are home alone.
Since we invest a lot of our time and money in making our homes beautiful and comfortable, it seems to me that we should feel beautiful and comfortable in them. Not dressed up, of course, but elegant and relaxed. And that includes our feet.*
If you were in an elevator with Warren Buffet, how would you describe your company, your services or products? What makes your company different from others? What is your company’s biggest strength?
Anna Elshafei: I would describe Shaffay as a small, niche, brand of elegant slippers for elegant women. That elegance is what makes us different from other slipper brands.
Our biggest strength is simply making something functional into something lovely. Something women need into something they want.
What advice do you wish you had received when you started your business journey and what do you intend on improving in the next quarter?
Anna Elshafei: “You’re going to need to be patient because this will take time”. It takes a long time to get brand recognition and it is hard not to be frustrated when results are not instantaneous.
Over the next quarter, I will be looking to improve and grow that brand recognition so that, by this autumn/winter, when people are looking for slippers, they know to come to Shaffay.
Online business keeps on surging higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for the year to come and how are you capitalizing on the tidal wave?
Anna Elshafei: Shaffay is entirely an online, ecommerce business. I cannot imagine how I could have started it at all in the pre-Internet world (a market stall perhaps..?!). The online business tidal wave allows any ambitious, individual entrepreneur to start a business, even if they have only very limited resources.
I think the new wide availability of impressive AI chatbots is going to make a big impact on ecommerce (as well as all sorts of other areas) over the next year. How will search engines rank websites that are full of automatically generated text? And how will chatbots respond? It’s going to be interesting.
Christopher Hitchens, an American journalist, is quoted as saying that “everyone has a book in them” Have you written a book? If so, please share with us details about it. If you haven’t, what book would you like to write and how would you like it to benefit the readers?
Anna Elshafei: Brilliant as he was, I am not sure that Christopher Hitchens was right about that! If I could write a book, it would not be about business. I would write about what I have learned about people from living in and with other cultures.
When I was young, I believed that everyone is fundamentally the same. Now I do not think that at all. I would like readers in democratic western countries, like the UK and the US, to understand that it is not in fact true that everyone else in the world secretly wishes they were just like us.
In your experience, what tends to be the most underestimated part of running a company? Can you share an example?
Anna Elshafei: I think, in respect of small businesses at least, the most underestimated part is just how tricky it is to get yourself known.
People tend to think that once you have a website and a social media presence, customers will find you. In fact, that is only the start!
On a lighter note, if you had the ability to pick any business superpower, what would it be and how would you put it into practice?
Anna Elshafei: Each superpower I think of leads me on a mental trail to troubling consequences! My immediate response was “the ability to see into people’s minds and read their deepest desires” but then I realised that I might see disturbing things.
Then I thought, “the power to influence customer trends so as to be able to cater to them” and that made me think about mind control and me as a movie villain with an insane laugh. I won’t tell you the others…
I’m overthinking it, clearly! How about amazing foresight? Having the ability to predict the zeitgeist would allow me not only to be ready with every flavour of every month, but to know exactly how to market it. No mind control needed.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Anna Elshafei for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Anna Elshafei or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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