5 Ways to Make It in the Shoe Business, According to Malone Souliers

Malone Souliers
Mary Alice Malone and Roy Luwolt of Malone Souliers.
Courtesy of brand

Dynamic duo Mary Alice Malone and Roy Luwolt launched their breakout label Malone Souliers in 2014. Now, three years later, they have notched up some 350 points of sale, garnered a serious celebrity following and earned Footwear News’ 2017 Vivian Infantino Emerging Talent Award.

Malone Souliers also has ongoing collaborations with British designer Roksanda Ilincic, Natalia Vodianova and her Naked Heart Foundation, plus a super-cute children’s line perfect for the stylish mini-me.

So what’s the secret of their success? Here the brand’s founders offer five tips:

1. A strong work ethic
Malone acquired her work ethic as a junior dressage champion, selected for the U.S. Olympics team. This is also where she learned “an overwhelming sense of self discipline,” she told FN. “These habits are necessary to get things done.”

2. Know your market
The label’s shoes are designed to take you from a 9 a.m. business meeting to date night while accounting for everything in between. “I want them to be shoes that women can feel beautiful in and experience their life in,” said Malone.

Malone Souliers Resort 2018 Malone Souliers spring ’18 collection boot. Thomas Iannaccone

3. Choose the right partner
“Mary Alice is the first business partner I ever trusted, so make sure you pick the right person,” said Luwolt.

4. A celebrity following doesn’t do anybody any harm
Jessica Chastain, Amal Clooney and Beyoncé are all loyal fans of the brand.

5. It’s all about the balance
“We are constantly refining and responding to the market, but we are also really stubborn about product,” said Malone. For instance, customers and buyers wanted a kitten heel, and the duo listened. The key, though, is to keep it on-brand. “Don’t try to be everything to everybody,” added Luwolt.

malone souliers Meet Maisie, one of Malone Souliers’ new spring ’18 kitten heel styles. Malone Souliers

The Malone Souliers founders join the ranks of a celebrated group of talents. Previously, the Vivian Infantino Emerging Talent Award has been bestowed on designers such as Sophia Webster, Nicolò Beretta, Aurora James and Nicholas Kirkwood.

This marks the 31st year of the FN Achievement Awards, often dubbed the Oscars of the footwear industry. The much-anticipated event will be held on Nov. 28 at the IAC Building in New York and will honor the brightest stars of the business. Among them: Designer of the Year Gianvito Rossi, Collaborator of the Year Ronnie Fieg and Launch of the Year Alexa Chung. Additionally, Stan Smith will receive the Manolo Blahnik Lifetime Achievement Award, and the crown for Shoe of the Year will go to Virgil Abloh’s Air Jordan 1.

Click here to read more about all the FN Achievement Award winners.