5 Questions for Charlotte Olympia Dellal

Charlotte Olympia Dellal is making moves both big and small.

Her namesake brand will open stand-alone stores in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in September and Las Vegas in December. That’s fresh on the heels of an April opening in Hong Kong through a partnership with Pedder Group. On top of that, her line of children’s shoes were introduced at Harrods last month.

The mother of three boys, Dellal is performing her own version of a balancing act these days. “My business and my children are both my babies, so I juggle them both,” said the designer, who launched her main line in 2008 and a children’s shoe line in 2013. “The kids’ collection includes miniature shoes and iconic signature designs. At the end of the day, my designs are playful, and they are designs that both children and adults can enjoy.”

Also this year, her brand opened its first New York showroom, a move that Dellal said will assist with U.S. expansion. “It’s part of the commitment we have to business opportunities in New York,” she said. “This is our first headquarters outside our London hometown, so we are further expanding our dedication to the U.S.”

Now on display in the showroom is her spring ’15 line, which illustrates the designer’s efforts to broaden her selection of heel heights, with a range of 35 to 155 millimeters.

Even so, Dellal won’t back down on high elevations. “I still believe that, despite the trends, women out there still want the height and platforms,” she said of her upcoming collection.

As she works to grow her brand, the designer told Footwear News she is determined to carve out her own path with a unique design sensibility.

“Rather than copy what someone else has done, I want to have a point of difference,” she said. “No two people are the same, plans change, and I don’t think you can emulate. I do think you can admire. I may not be a brand-new designer, but I’m still new enough to focus on my own direction.”

She aims to grow the brand independently as well. In the beginning, the designer benefited from family monetary support. Her mother, Andrea Dellal, is a former model; father Guy Dellal is a businessman in London; and her late grandfather was a property investor and reportedly a billionaire. As a result, Dellal avoided the financing issues that plague many young entrepreneurs.

Today, the company reinvests its profits to fund future growth and expansion. “I’m very fortunate that my brand is self-funding,” she said. “I am not looking at any investors currently, which is great in that respect.”

Here, Dellal dives into her retail strategy and offers advice for the pack of new designer talent.

What has been your approach to growing the retail footprint?
COD:
It’s about finding the right place at the right time. We had a wish list of key markets where we wanted to have a presence. We now better understand the consumers and geographies, and it’s been a fantastic platform to showcase the shoes in the right environment. These are worlds I’d like to put my shoes in and better express the brand DNA.

Do you have your eye on other product categories?
COD:
I’m launching leather goods in October. I started in handbags four years ago, but nothing in leather. There are four leather styles, and we will add to that. Everything with my brand is organic: I started off as a footwear designer and eventually launched a Lucite clutch box to match. There are definitely many [categories] I would like to do, but it has to come at the right time. Leather goods was something I always wanted to do, and I had to find the right balance.

What are your thoughts on the excitement around the young-designer contingent?
COD:
There are many more up-and-coming footwear designers out there now, so that’s great to see. Before, you could name on one hand the successful footwear designers, and now younger people are choosing the career path. There is a bit more interest in footwear thanks to retail spaces allocated for the designers, like the new Shoe Heaven floor at Harrods. It’s fantastic.

Any advice for those newcomers?
COD:
It’s [important] to be true to your aesthetic and have a point of view and a point of difference, because then you get noticed more by retailers and the fashion industry. I’ve always said that you can have a lot of talent, but you also have to have a business plan. If you don’t have a plan, it could stunt you somewhere.

What is your secret for evolving your brand each season?
COD:
It wouldn’t be a secret if I told you [laughs], but it’s always good to challenge yourself to make every season as successful as your last. It helps to evolve, but in the correct way, where you still adapt and still maintain the brand DNA. There are so many beautiful things in the world that can inspire you, but you have to stay true to your brand. I also have a good team helping me do that, and I’ve [succeeded] by growing my business with the best people I could find.

NOTE: This article has been changed to reflect that Dellal’s brand is now self-funding.

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