With her great looks, winning personality and gorgeous shoes, Kathryn Wilson is walking tall as this year she reaches the milestone of a decade of designing decadent shoes for our dainty feet. With the recent retail downturn and economic crisis, which has seen many retailers and brands disappear, it's testament to the strength of Kathryn’s brand as it continues to grow, with the addition of diffusion shoe line Miss Wilson in 2011, an upmarket little girls’ range, and the opening of a retail space in the Britomart.
Not one to put her feet up, Kathryn is also the brand ambassador for Veuve Clicquot, BMW and the Hilton —aswell as helping numerous charities and organisations. Visiting the Bay of Plenty this week as guest speaker for the Cooney Lees Morgan Business Women’s Conference, Kathryn took time out to visit Sisters & Co’s new department store, meet customers and talk about her brand.
Q&A WITH KATHRYN
How did you kick off your shoe career?
I’ve always had a love of shoes, even as a young girl, and always dreamt of being a shoe designer. I studied for a bachelor of fashion design at Massey University and upon graduating won the AMP scholarship for shoe design, which helped launch my career.
How long have you been designing shoes for?
This year will be our 10th year in business. We launched the brand in December 2003.
What was your big break?
A lot of hard work and late nights. Also, I’ve been surrounded by great mentors throughout the years.
What is it that you love most about what you do?
Being able to choose a job that I love means that I never work a day in my life.
What is the craziest place you have seen someone wearing your shoes?
The last trip up to Hong Kong, Julia and I spotted a girl in the metro wearing a pair of our loafers. We were very tempted to tell her how cool her shoes looked. It definitely gave us a warm fuzzy feeling.
What inspires you?
Travel, friends, movies, music videos.
You have an amazing team that works with you.
We are blessed to have a fabulous team who love the brand and the shoes. What more could I ask for? There’s nothing better than being able to have fun while we work, and we think of our team as a little family.
Who is your ultimate favourite designer?
Dries van Noten; the colours, the fabrics, the prints, the trims, the devil is in the detail . . .
What’s in the pipeline?
The brand is turning 10 this year. We are very excited to be celebrating with our brand partners, stockists andcustomers. Keep an eye and an ear out for exciting announcements as we have shows and events in the works.