Why Isa Tapia Is Making Major Changes to Her Namesake Brand

Isa Tapia is shaking things up at her namesake company. The designer, who launched her brand in 2011, is focused on a direct-to-consumer strategy. Through her own e-commerce site, Tapia is able to lower prices and test different designs while focusing on offering strictly spring and summer seasonal styles, forgoing traditional fall and winter drops.

“Sixty percent of my customers are from California,” she said, noting, however, many styles will still carry over. “We are a [spring] destination.”

This shift in distribution is a big change for the CFDA designer who made waves in retail early on, landing key accounts such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, Harvey Nichols and Lane Crawford.

In 2015, Tapia had received a round of funding from Pentland Group to help fuel  expansion but she has since taken back the reins of her business in a mutual decision.

Isa Tapia shoes
Isa Tapia block heel sandals.
CREDIT: Courtesy image

Over the past year, she has been working on the restructure, which also included an online partnership with J.Crew that has helped grow her digital presence. She said, “Every month has doubled in sales, people are coming straight to us. And now we know what works, we know what the prices and styles should be.” (She is also offered online at Neiman Marcus and Shopbop.)

Plus, Tapia now operates her own warehouse based in New Jersey in order to have full control of her logistical operations.

“I’m such a small brand. There was so much shift. It didn’t make sense to keep putting money into a wholesale strategy,” she said. “My entire plan has changed.”

What is staying the same is Tapia’s whimsical design aesthetic featuring bow flats, heart-shaped sandals and raffia wedges, as well as updates to the brand’s signature styles such as the Shelby.

Tapia, who produces some styles in Brazil, is also working with a factory in Spain. “It’s an organic partnership. I’m just not cutting 150 SKUs anymore. I can now test 100 pairs. It lets me build organically and I’m not stuck with inventory. We order as we go,” Tapia said.

The designer has also launched handbags for the first time. And to close out the year, Tapia will open a pop-up shop in Culver City, Calif., to continue to boost brand awareness.

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