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Getting to know: Award-winning shoe designer, Camilla Elphick

THE DISH caught up with the founder of the eponymous shoe brand, Camilla Elphick. Camilla talks about the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, building her empire and how it all began.

Who or what inspired you to become a shoe designer?

It was when I was studying at fashion school; Parsons in New York, I realised my true passion for shoes & accessories. I had been hording a large collection of shoes, shoe books and all my projects had turned into shoe designs – it seemed like the right next step to apply to the London College of Fashion to continue my degree. Whilst in my first year, back in London I met Manolo Blanik at a meet and greet – I showed him my portfolio and he said I should definitely be a shoe designer –  THE best compliment EVER. I then met Sophia Webster at her graduate show – she gave me her card and I emailed her as soon as I got home – a few months later I started working for Sophia on an internship role at Nichols Kirkwood. I then did a number of internships at Burberry, Paul Andrew, Donna Karen and Charlotte Olympia and by that point I was completely inspired to become a shoe designer and there was no way back!

Your recent launch event was at Bluebird Café in White City, was it important for you to find a venue that aligned with you as a brand and the new shoe collection?

I love the terrace and décor of Bluebird Café in White City and I thought it would be the perfect location for our “Summer In The City” themed summer sandal launch event. Our studios are in neighbouring Ladbroke Grove and so I liked the idea of it being local with friends of the brand. Everyone had fun and we sipped on spritzers and had the most delicious cheese boards and snacks.

What inspired your new collection?

The new sandal collection is inspired by retro styles we love and wanted to bring back with a modern twist – we’ve launched two new styles from the collection this month called ‘Saasha’ and ‘Amber’. I wanted them to be something the girls in Sex and the City might have worn at a rooftop party! I am a city girl and these really are city sandals.

When did you launch your brand and where did it start out?

I launched my brand in 2014 at London Fashion Week at Somerset House in the Designer Showrooms. We had a completely wild display made up of a roulette wheel and an all lucky inspired collection – it was hard to miss! It all started out about six months before then from a cubby hole in a set of shelves at our now investors office in Shoreditch. She inspired me to take a leap when I was young and had nothing to lose. I called the fashion department at the British Embassy in Milan and arranged a meeting where they gave me a long list of factories that might be suitable for my style of design and price point – it was then up to me to find somewhere who would produce my samples. I found a small artisan factory just outside of Milan. With these samples we then received our first orders at Fashion Week and it’s gone from there!

Where do you see your brand in 5 years’ time?

I am excited to see my brand grow and expand into international markets and online. I would like to have a stronger presence or even offices in New York as it’s a city I still love and it is where our top customers are living. I also see a greater offering of products which we have already started developing.

How important is sustainability in fashion to you brand?

Sustainability has always been at the heart of my brand. In 2015 we won an award from Positive Luxury for our sustainability credentials. I have always sourced our leathers and materials we use from the start and I know our complete supply chain from start to finish. I know who makes every part of our shoes and I love that. It means we have complete control and I love nothing more than visiting our now factory in Portugal. We have recently introduced an initiative for our customers to return goods free of charge once they have reached shelf life and we will recycle them sustainably. We also launched a Vegan line earlier this year for customers with vegan principles which has been received well.

What’s your favourite type of shoe to design/wear yourself?

My favourite type of shoe to design is an occasion wear and conversation starting high heels but in reality day-to-day I do wear flats and mid heels. I am always running about town and/or with my dog Lulu and so I do need a practical pair of shoes – at the moment over the summer these are usually my ‘Lover Flats’ (in mirrored silver) or our ‘Heart & Sole’ sneakers (in all white) or for meetings ‘Matilda’ (in white) I’ve also just got myself a pair of ‘Amber’ (in tan and mirrored silver).

 Who would you love to see wearing your shoes?

I would love to see more women all around the world wearing our shoes (on Instagram) and seeing how they style them. I find it fascinating – so remember to hashtag #CamillaElphick 

What’s your favourite season and why?

I love all of the seasons and don’t have a favourite. Right now, summer is probably my favourite – rosé and snacks on the terrace of Bluebird in White City after work with the team or on weekends with friends in Chelsea is my favourite!