After connecting with the beautiful and stately Gwen Frempong-Boadu at last month’s COCOACHiC and In Her Shoes Haute Strut event, I just knew she had to be featured on my blog. If you’re not already familiar with Gwen, you’re truly missing out. Her stylish yet practical footwear designs have graced the pages of O Magazine, In Style, Footwear Plus, and many other publications worldwide. Any sophisticated style maven worth her weight in gold is wearing Gwen’s designs and after reading this interview, you’ll be lining up to snag a pair of your own. Meet fly female entrepreneur, Gwen Frempong-Boadu:
In Her Shoes: Tell us a little bit about your background and what inspired you to become a footwear designer.
Gwen: My introduction to footwear design is unconventional compared to most. It began while in college studying fashion design. During my breaks, I worked as a shoe model for Sam & Libby to make quick money. After graduating, I was offered a position with them as a design assistant for the brand’s clothing line. Unfortunately, years later, the clothing line was licensed out. Being that I had always been indirectly involved with the shoe division exchanging trend ideas and giving feedback, Sam gave me an opportunity to try my hand at shoe design. I’ve been in love ever since…
So, fifteen years later after working for Sam Edelman and other industry giants like Kenneth Cole and Steve Madden where I helped to Launch the $40 million dollar plus division Steven, it was time to do my own thing!
In Her Shoes: When you launched Gwyneth Shoes, what was the most challenging aspect of getting your brand out and into the industry?
Gwen: My biggest challenge would be creating a product that set us apart from all the rest of the competition at my price point. I’m a woman who loves and lives in high heels, but they were never as comfortable as I needed them to be. There was a huge void for fashionable yet comfortable shoes. I thought surely lots of women must feel the same way. With that I mind, I designed a special sock cushion which I had patented even before sketching my first collection. Even the highest heels in the line can be worn with comfort all day! It was also important to create shoes for women that were size 10 and up, they deserved sexy, feminine shoes as well. This would become our niche. Our first major account was Amazon.com.
In Her Shoes: If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be?
Gwen: My favorite American designers are Michael Kors and Donna Karen. I would be thrilled to make shoes for any of them. I also love clothes from L’ Wren Scott, Haider Ackerman and J Mendel.
In Her Shoes: What is a day like in Gwen’s shoes?
Gwen: In the course of a day, it’s not unusual for me to change shoes several times. I have a toddler, so my day starts anywhere from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m. then it’s off to school by 8. He doesn’t always feel like walking to the car, so I start out in low to mid heels so I can move steadily and quickly with him. From there, I’m off to work where I have lots of personal pairs and samples that just happen to fit me. I switch into high heels and even higher by the end of the day. I finish most days between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. because of the time difference in China where my line is developed and manufactured.
In Her Shoes: Who are some of your high profile clients?
Gwen: Every woman who steps into a pair of Gwyneth shoes is high profile! Women like Angela Bassett, Yolanda Adams, Susan Taylor, and Rocsi of 106 & Park have been spotted wearing Gwyneth Shoes over the years.
In Her Shoes: Do you still get nervous when you launch a new collection? If so, how do you get over it?
Gwen: I don’t get nervous, but I do second guess if I have covered enough trends to make an impact. Sometimes, styles aren’t always executed just the way I want. So certain looks fall out of the collection before presenting it.
(L-R) Renae Bluitt, Gwen Frempong-Boadu and T. Bernie Bernard
In Her Shoes: We all know that “shoes make the man” but what do you think footwear says about women?
Gwen: Shoes say a lot about how a woman feels about herself. Her self confidence, assertiveness and sensuality are all expressed through shoe choices.
In Her Shoes: Tell us a little bit about what we can expect from your Fall 2011 & Winter 2012 collection and what (or who) some of your influences are:
Gwen: I am consistently influenced by the diverse culture and personal style of women around the globe from many years of international travel. For Fall 11/12 , some of our themes were:
Black Bombshell: Beautiful, elegant or trendy black shoes made in pony hair, velvet, and laser perfs.
Practically Chic: Elegant career styles that go from day into evening.
Luscious Lace: Great party looks in black lace with satin under lays in royal, orange and brown. We also made some of our high sexy bridal shoes in white and ivory lace.
Sixties Minute: Classic and retro styles done in color blocking or with lots of hardware.
So ladies, are you ready to pick up a pair of Gwyneth shoes (or two)? Click here to visit the brand’s online boutique.