Sari Ratsula and Gabriel Morales have an unmistakable witty banter that adds to their dynamic working relationship.
The president and director of product, respectively, have been at the helm of the company for almost 10 years. The energetic pair oversees all of the brands in the firm’s portfolio, including Seychelles, BC Footwear, SEY Collection and Eight Fifteen.
Footwear News let Ratsula and Morales take the reins for a candid conversation about standout styles, their balancing act as a team and other topics. Here are the best outtakes.
GABRIEL MORALES: Besides me, what inspires you?
SARI RATSULA: What inspires me is seeing girls on the street wearing our shoes that we worked on together. Seeing them happy, that’s what inspires me. That also challenges my mind and makes me wonder how we can keep doing that.
GM: That’s very inspiring to me also. In our industry, that’s the ultimate satisfaction: to see the consumer wearing our shoes. We’re excited about our product. Hats off to Gucci for giving us a license to try different things. The label’s [innovation] with design — and not just with shoes, but apparel, too — created excitement to try different things.
SR: When we started in early 2000, I was questioning you, and you wrote me 17 pages. I’m exaggerating, but you wrote a letter about me letting you do your job. We both have strong minds. We had a tumultuous first few months. It was a learning curve. You have more experience than I do because you’re way older.
GM: Why do you think we work well together now?
SR: I think what you love about someone is also what aggravates you. You would say the same thing, Gabe. I’m all about the details. I’m a very visual person. I got a contract from our lawyers, and I corrected it. My brain functions that way. I think it’s great, but sometimes it’s a burden. I used to do product at Vans. It’s easy for me to say I’m going to build or design a shoe, but when push comes to shove, I know he will always do it better. In order for us to be the best, I have to pull back.
GM: You are very precise. You pay attention to every little detail. I am detail-oriented. But when it comes to the actual shoes, I can go to sleep at night knowing Seychelles pump that whatever happens, there is a balance and preciseness to the way we work together.
SR: What shoes are you most excited about for fall ’17? What do you want to see our girls wearing?
GM: Obviously all of the styles are our babies. You would think I would pick an iconic bootie, but I’m picking [a mod pointed-toe block heel in mustard and a d’orsay flat in olive] because I think these styles give us the opportunity to grow our business in a different way. There is some nostalgia to these styles, but we are incorporating some upfront looks, too.
GM: What style are you most excited about? You only get one choice.
SR: These styles are both from the Seychelles collection: a wedge ankle boot and a menswear style with studs. I love these two things. I am my own inspiration … that sounds horrible to say.
GM: You’re a little bit full of yourself.
SR: I want things that are comfortable and you can wear black with anything. These styles have attitude.