To love shoes is to know Tamara Mellon—for her designs, her life story, and for co-founding Jimmy Choo. She took that company to the top with the man himself, only to lose it 15 years later. Well, sort of—mired in controversy, Mellon felt she had no choice but to sell her shares of the storied company, which amounted to 49 percent.
For some, that would have been it: a great run, plenty of fodder for headlines. But for Mellon, it was far from over. After years out of the spotlight and relocating to the U.S. from her native U.K., she returned to what she loved most: designing shoes.
Mellon launched her second company in 2016, but this time it would bear her name and run by her rules. A lot has changed since the Jimmy Choo days, but Mellon's core business principles remain the same: She's still manufacturing her shoes in Italy, and her designs still make women feel beautiful and sexy.
On the occasion of her mobile shoe closet's visit to River Oaks District this past weekend, we caught up with the serial entrepreneur on what's new with her company and what else she has ins tore.
What are the main differences between your new business model and your former company?
"We launched an e-commerce, direct-to-consumer site with the purpose of making more affordable but still high-end shoes by eliminating the middle man. With Jimmy Choo, we would sell in a lot of retailers that inevitably would increase the cost for the end consumer."
How do you connect with customers to let them try on shoes and experience the TM style?
"We began by doing trunk shows, which were very successful, and have created the 'truck' concept, the mobile closet. We want women to walk into our truck and see it exactly as their closet. We have shoes separated by size so the shoe-lover can experience all styles in her size. She will get $100 off each pair that she buys on the truck, and they'll be delivered to her house in a few days."
How does the Houston market compare to the rest of the U.S.?
"Women in Houston are very fashion-forward, love luxury and our brand. We are having tremendous success with the truck. On the east coast we have a big audience, and in L.A. as well, which is where we have our headquarters and the first storefront. We are planning to open other brick-and-mortars in the near future; we're focusing only in the U.S. for now."
What's up next in your second act?
"Down the road, we're looking into expanding into other countries and adding more product lines like sunglasses, fragrance, and ready-to-wear."
In the meantime, Tamara Mellon fans have plenty of her fabulous shoes to walk in—and walk tall, thanks to a guaranteed two-year cobbler concierge service, free of charge. Missed the TM Closet? It's headed to Dallas next; catch it at the Mall at Highland Park from November 6–10.