2016 marks my 20th year in the business, and I can tell you in no uncertain terms that each of those years have been full of lessons learned. When I founded Jimmy Choo in 1996, the process of starting a shoe brand was new to me. Taking this on was scary, and often stressful, but here are 10 lessons I learned from starting, leaving, starting again, burning down and rebuilding a luxury brand.
1. Trust your gut. This lesson took me a while to learn, and I definitely got there the hard way. Shameless plug to read my book-- I get into the gritty true stories of all the times I should have listened to my heart, as well as the amazing results of finally trusting myself.
2. It’s all about your team. The success of a brand has everything to do with the team that brings it to life. Surround yourself with people who believe in your vision, and who show up everyday with the passion to make it real.
3. Inspiration is a practice. It’s more than a mood board, more than flipping through vintage photography for hours on Pinterest, more than the never-ending Instagram scroll. It’s about connecting things: ideas, moments, materials, art, history, design, life experiences... After decades of working creatively, my biggest inspiration comes from what I know about women: what they want, what motivates them, and what empowers them to walk the walk.
4. Leap before you look. Don’t be afraid to do the thing.
5. Feminism is not a convenient marketing tactic. I've been a feminist since before it was a buzzword. I have always believed in lifting women up, and I'm building a brand where women manifest their truth, power, and sexuality without apology. I believe in walking the walk, especially in a killer pair of heels.
6. Don’t apologize: for being you. For learning, or asking questions. For believing in yourself, or for needing a boost of confidence some days. Do apologize: if you mess up-- own your shit.
7. Reinvent. I was over strappy sandals, until I designed the Frontline. Now, the Hollywood red carpet favorite is our signature take on a closet staple.
8. Rules were made to be broken...
9. … but always keep your word.
10. I’ll never tell you that you need my shoes. Brands and ads often try to tell women what we're not and I'm not interested in that. You don’t need anything to complete you; not things or titles or boyfriends or girlfriends or followers or even shoes. I believe in beautiful shoes for women who are already beautiful - they just need to own it (and I often need to remind myself to do the same).