Convention has never exactly been my thing.
In 1996, at age 27, I left my post as an accessories editor at British Vogue to co-found a company with an East London cobbler named Jimmy Choo. Over the following 16 years, I built one of the most recognized luxury brands in the world and discovered what I love to do most: design shoes and break rules.
But when I left in 2012 to start my own brand, I didn’t stay true to my inner risk taker. I played it safe. I had a vision to do something no luxury designer had done before but got stuck in the old model (the one where retailers control your fate and you design to their calendar). The world had changed dramatically, but luxury was living like it was still 1999.
I spent a lot of time talking trash about “the system”—how it was broken and out of touch with what women want. I’ve complained about pricing and questioned “the calendar.” Pre-fall in April? So I decided: enough already, let’s fix this thing. Let’s start over. Even if that means I have to admit defeat and burn the rulebook I helped write.
So, now I’m starting over and doing it the way I should have the first time around: No retailers. Direct to women. Shoes designed by me and made by generations- old Italian factories with a brand and community that reflects me, my beliefs, what I have to say and the things I care about. My story is a reminder that no matter what life throws at you (if you want all the messy details, read my memoir In My Shoes), you can pick yourself up, put on a killer pair of heels and be true to yourself.
As a woman designing for women, a mother, entrepreneur, ex-wife, friend, girlfriend, philanthropist and feminist, the new TAMARA MELLON is the most me I’ve ever been—and some of it might surprise you.
Welcome to my next chapter.