Some people are fortunate enough to find their purpose or passion in the early stages of life, while some do not find their purpose or passion until later in life. Others gain insight of their passion or purpose, but don’t accept it until they realize they can no longer escape their life’s true calling. ShuEsq believes Dan Sullivan’s, founder and creative designer of Irregular Choice, story is the essence of someone who accepted his passion and purpose once he could no longer escape his life’s true calling.
Dan was born into the footwear industry. His parents owned footwear stores based in London, and at the age of 13 he designed his first shoe while visiting his parents’ Italian shoe factory. Dan’s design was so successful that it was sold not only in the UK, but also in Japan and the United States. Still not quite convinced that footwear was his true calling, Dan decided to explore other ventures. Upon leaving school, Dan decided to take another shot at working in the footwear industry. He opened his first footwear store in the UK’s Covenant Garden, which quickly expanded to nine stores. Despite his success in the footwear industry, Dan decided to close his stores at the age of 23 to travel the world and experience different aspects of life. But of course, the footwear industry began calling Dan again. This time, he decided to start his own brand, Irregular Choice. Like ShuEsq, Dan’s vision in creating Irregular Choice was to have a reason to stand out in the crowd!
Dan’s inspiration for Irregular Choice comes from his experiences of growing up in the footwear business as well as wanting to offer his customers something affordable, yet fun and different. Dan also draws from the inspiration that is around him. Although some may see just an object or shape, Dan’s mind begins to think how he is able to transform that shape or object into a shoe. Dan’s immersion into his creative process has resulted in him creating over 300 unique styles for each season with his overall catalog having over 10,000 styles. And to think, he almost ignored his calling of becoming a footwear designer. What calling are you ignoring?
Although Dan is walking in his calling, it does not mean his journey comes without challenges. Dan acknowledges that illustrating his designs are quite simple, but the challenge lies in transforming his designs into an actual product that people can wear comfortably on a daily basis. This is because footwear is very technical and there are limits on what can and cannot be done when bringing his designs to life.
All in all, Dan appreciates that he can live life on his own terms without having to conform to society’s standards of living. He believes his biggest achievement after 17 years in the business is the ability to still have fun making unique shoes.
“Doing something different is not always profitable, but we have been extremely fortunate to build an amazing customer base that supports us continuously. I love doing my job, and I am just glad that we have been able to maintain it for so long!”
Who knew that by simply following his life calling, Dan would experience much success? Irregular Choice began as a wholesale business in the small seaside town of Brighton in the UK, but has expanded to a respected footwear brand stocked in over 50 countries worldwide and is currently developing a casual collection known as ICED, a men’s collection, accessories and much more. Dan hopes to have a legacy in the footwear industry like Vivienne Westwood, Issey Miyake, and Yohji Yamamoto, which are all designers he admires. And although the UK is Irregular Choice’s home base, Dan just opened two stores in China, and plans to open stores in Australia and the US.
Again, what life calling are you ignoring? We encourage you to explore it, you never know what may be waiting for you on the other side!
For more of Dan’s designs, be sure to visit https://www.irregularchoice.com/ !