The cheeky shoe designer Charlotte Olympia Dellal, known for her modern pin-up girl aesthetic, has always wanted to work in fashion, but designing shoes was not part of her original plan. In a new interview with Business of Fashion, Dellal reveals that it was one of her professors at the London College of Design that led her down that path, after complimenting the solid "accessories focus" in her work. Inspired by his support, she eventually decided to pursue her own shoe line—but, like most entrepreneurs, she began with zero experience, hoping to learn the ropes along the way. "I think I wanted a brand before I even knew what a brand was," she jokes in the interview. But with a hit seven-year-old footwear brand (known simply as Charlotte Olympia) under her belt, it's safe to say Dellal has learned a lot. To help out others hoping to follow in her entrepreneurial (and stylish) footsteps, she offered up some sage advice.
Read on for her three best tips, and head over to Business of Fashion to read the full interview!
Dellal notes that her experience interning for British fashion journalist Hilary Alexander was crucial to her understanding of the fashion industry. "Having that insight that your work is being critiqued and isn't just for you, you learn all sorts of things," she says, including her discovery that having a specific and "recognizable" point of view was crucial for young designers.
Dellal attributes much of her success to building a team around her, even if it was small at first, with just one family friend managing the production end. She also notes that her earliest priorities for the product were kept as simple as possible: "design, having someone to make them, selling them, invoicing them, [and] getting them out on time without the heels falling off."
"My prices were quite expensive to start off with, especially as new designer," Dellal recalls, "but they were beautifully handmade in Italy [and I couldn't] negotiate with [the] factory in the beginning." In the end she was so glad she kept the prices high, noting that many people "shoot themselves in the foot by...not making any profit."
Let us know in the comments if you have any more career tips!