marysue | Indie Shoe Blog for Women
Many of you know that we have always championed smaller, independent shoe designers. In fact, we have built our entire business on curating a collection of special, unique and hard to find brands. One of our favorite things to do is spread the news about our finds. You may not immediately recognize her name, but we have a feeling you will soon as Kat Maconie’s unique shoes have her signature calling card on each pair. Whether it is her framed heels or colorful innovative uppers, her shoes have a look and feel that is all her own. We see a lot of shoes and know that originality like Kat’s shoes have the ingredient for longevity in shoe design.
We met up with Kat at a recent trade show and this little lady sure shined bright when presenting her collection. She is the real deal, and we knew we had to tell her story.
Kat charged into shoe design a few years ago after she wore many hats in the fashion world. All of these experiences prepped her for launching her own label. Here she spills on how she got here, where her inspo comes from (from Art to Game Boy, seriously), the bumps in the road she found in far away lands, some savvy advice to other women entrepreneurs, to her caffeine of choice. Take a read.
Tell us about your entry into starting your own shoe line?
The original concept was pumps that looked like ballet flats but felt like sneakers. The creativity was a little limiting though so the collections quickly evolved into platforms, flatforms and high heels, however, always keeping the core principle of being wearable in mind. And also keeping in mind that all insoles need to be cushioned for that slightly later than intended night ;-)
You clearly look at the world a little differently than the rest of us! Tell us more about your geometric designs and where this inspiration comes from.
Inspiration can come from anywhere, but my design team and I get a lot of inspiration from our travels. It could come from a range of things such as artists that are currently exhibiting in London to Game Boy games such as tetris! We are inspired when we wander around the Victoria & Albert Museum or when we wander around hardware stores for interesting metal details. Our Fall16 prints and embroidery detail (Boggie man) is inspired by a little metal dancing man broach I found in an Antiques shop in LA, we also look at a lot of vintage jewelry for detail inspiration.
What did you do before you designed shoes?
I attended evening classes at London Collage of Fashion - it was a purely shoe design focused course, I was working on the buying and product development team at Whistles (a high end fashion retailer in the UK) while attending the classes and so I got the design experience by night and the business experience by day to enable me to launch Kat Maconie.
Biggest challenge in starting your business?
There have been many! I had my name stolen in China, that was a big challenge getting that back. I was unable to sell my brand in China without it, so I had to buy it off the person who had trademarked it and fly him to Hong Kong from central China and negotiate with him for many months, it was a bit of a nightmare! Raising finance was also a challenge, developing custom designed shoes with unique heels is very costly, custom machinery and moulds need to be made to produce each new construction.
The most rewarding part about your work right now?
Freedom to make decisions.
The product we develop. I still get so excited when the boxes of new samples arrive, its fantastic to be able to lie in bed thinking about a design detail and then see it in reality a few months later.
The travel has been amazing too, I have covered a lot of the world on sales trips and collection development trips.
Advice to other women who are looking to follow their passions?
I know its an obvious one and everyone says it BUT it IS the most important: never ever give up. Accept that bad things will happen! I have definitely had my fair share of disasters but you need to battle through and not take no for an answer. Stay true to your vision, you will have many people on the way trying to pull you in directions that you don't necessarily want to go. Stay focused on who your customer is and don’t try and please too many different customers otherwise what you are trying to present will look diluted and not as strong.
Your favorite shoe from your Fall collection?
I love the Sadie in black, its chic, makes you feel empowered and sexy and although high its comfortable and easy to strut in!
What you can’t live without ?
My Labradoodle, Doris, I miss her so much when traveling.
Your caffeine of choice?
I live on Bermondsey street in London, Bermondsey street has the most amazing collection of independent coffee shops along the street and the street is around the corner from Monmouth Coffee which I think is the best coffee in the world. Every morning(when not travelling!) I walk Doris down to the The Watch house Cafe and grab a take away Cappuccino before hitting the emails.