What's your design philosophy?
I am a woman making shoes for women, and I am deliberately designing for my tribe - a woman that I believe is being overlooked. She’s powerful, professional, and always polished. She has a busy lifestyle and requires versatility in her wardrobe, whether she’s running from meeting to meeting, attending a conference all day, heading to dinner with friends, attending a school function, or traveling for business or pleasure. Bottom line is that she wants to look chic and feel “put-together”, but she also requires comfort and versatility. I design for that woman, and she’s also me.
What's your favorite material to work with?
Footwear materials are absolutely critical to comfort and quality, and from my perspective, leather is the only option. Leather is just plain better for feet because it “breathes” and softens over time to mold to the foot, which is inevitably a more comfortable feel. Leather shoes have a richness that can’t be matched by synthetics, and if cared for properly, they are far more durable and can last for years. A quality shoe will be made entirely from leather— the insole, the lining, and the outsole.
What's your least favorite color to work with?
While many women think of shoes as an accessory, for me, they are both an accessory and a standalone element of any look. A shoe can both bring an outfit together, but a shoe can also be the star of the show. I love to work with both bold, rich colors that add tension, but I also remind myself often that shoes are still an accessory that must play well with apparel colors. That’s why so many shoes are neutral. That said, I have moved away from designing black shoes over the years largely because I generally believe that black does nothing to elevate a look and rarely adds excitement or boldness.
How do you balance creativity with wearability in your designs?
For me, shoes are functional art. They must fit well, but they also stand alone as a beautiful object. The functional part is a key driver for my designs. Everything that I do is “wearable” which translates to flats and mid-heels – shoes that are made for real-life. In terms of the aesthetic, I’m obsessed with a contemporary feminine point of view. I love clean lines that enhance, in shapes that feminize by creating a sleekness on the foot. Bells and Becks shoes are bucking the gender-neutral aesthetic trend in favor of a feminine look with a contemporary, “less is more” point of view. But at the same time, my shoes will always have a distinctive element – whether it’s textured leather, a feminine bright color, or a round, leather covered heel that adds a “pop”.
How do you handle the business side of fashion design?
While I am a designer and focus on product first, my background and experience come from years working as an executive in corporate retail, and I also have an MBA. I’ve always loved the mix of right brain/left brain thinking and enjoy balancing the creative side with the analytical elements of the business. The most important lesson I’ve learned is to focus on the customer and design for her – both in terms of aesthetic and function. I try to gather and analyze as much data as possible along the way to ensure that I’m building a sustainable business that will be around to serve the customer for the long-haul.