From designing clothes and accessories to designing handbags and producing hair products, women of color seem to have done it all. But there is one fashion niche they also seem to have shied away from. And whether they have done this consciously or unconsciously, it is refreshing to bring you a woman who is breaking the mold where others have not yet dared to tread, shoe designing.
Unlike many, Gwyneth Boadu, a small town girl from Virginia, now turned Jersey girl, does not tell the tale of being born into the designing business. She did not model in her mother’s shoes dreaming of someday becoming a shoe model and later, a shoe designer. She did, however learn to sew at a very young age from her grandmother. And while that experience sparked her initial interest in fashion, she didn’t end up as a fashion designer. Her introduction to shoe designing was “unconventional;” something she just happened to fall in love with while chasing quick money. But the moment she fell in love, she knew she had found her dream and has never looked back.
The result of that passion and dedication is a shoe line that reflects her love and passion. She brings comfort, class and style to Gwyneth Shoes.
Every business venture has an inspirational story behind it. What’s yours?
My introduction to footwear design is unconventional compared to most. It began while I was 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 with it ever since…
What would you say makes Gwyneth shoes any different from other shoes on today’s market?
Gwyneth is unique in the sense that we introduced the combination of sexy, feminine fashion comfort shoes long before it became so popular. Also, going up to a size 14 sets us apart as well. Even today, there are very few shoe designers that offer such a range of sizes.
As an African American woman, what parts of your heritage are reflected in the shoes you design?,
I am inspired by the natural wonders, beautiful colors and textiles of Africa. My husband has a pair of traditional Ghanaian sandles that I’ve also used in some of my designs.
Your shoes come with “patented sock cushions and flexible soles”. What are those, and how does it make Gwyneth more comfortable than the average shoe?
I am a woman who loves high heels , but I could never seem to find high heels that were comfortable enough for me. So out of the need for comfort, the cushion was the first thing I designed – before I even began creating the collection.
Describe your typical client. In other wards, who do you design for? What qualities does he/she possess? Or, is it just she?
The woman who wears Gwyneth is confident in her own skin and not afraid to experiment when it comes to new fashion elements. She owns her style and commands attention when she walks into a room.
What advice would you give to young designers just setting out who are feeling daunted by the challenges they currently face in the fashion industry?
I would advise young designers to most of all be prepared with the necessary skills to soar, because it is extremely competitive. I would also encourage them to stand strong in their design philosophy.
Have we probably seen your shoes on any runways?
During the New York Spring 2012 Fashion Week, we sponsered all of the shoes for The Sachika Twins runway show. We were also featured in Broolyn Fashion weekend and have also been featured in numerous editorials.
Now to the big question: Where can I buy one of Gwyneth’s designs? Do you have a Gwyneth Shoes Store located anywhere yet, or are they found in other shoe retail stores?
Gwyneth is sold primarily to specialty stores in the US and abroad, including Africa. We also sell to the giant online store AMAZON and they can also be found on our own website at http://www.gwynethshoes.com.
For more on Gwyneth Shoes, visit her website at http://www.gwynethshoes.com.