Designer Marion Parke Is Banking on Investment From This Longtime Footwear Family

Marion Parke, who debuted her namesake shoe brand for spring ’16, is in growth mode, thanks to the support of Minnetonka’s Miller family.

A little over a year ago, David Miller and his wife, Jennifer Melin Miller, were introduced to fellow Minnesota resident Parke and decided to invest in the company.

“We were impressed with her credentials as a foot and ankle surgeon,” Melin Miller said. “After wear-testing the product and truly feeling a significant difference in her shoes, we felt the designs could fill a gap in the luxury footwear marketplace.”

Since then, Parke has received what she describes as “smart” and “practical” guidance from the Millers. And David’s daughter, Jori Miller Sherer, has also been an adviser.

Parke said, “They have great footwear experience and are really involved on a very specific level.”

Marion parke shoes
Marion Parke leopard print sandals.
CREDIT: Courtesy image

According to Melin Miller, the first order of business has been to expand sales. “Luxury retail is changing rapidly, forcing traditional wholesale business models to evolve,” she said. “We have some fantastic retail partners and are working closely with them to differentiate Marion Parke shoes from other luxury designers, as well as employing strategies to build the direct-to-consumer business.”

Soon after launching her line, Parke made noise in the industry as a former podiatric surgeon creating comfortable, luxury Italian shoes for women. Her patented technology caught the attention of retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale’s.

The brand’s latest wholesale partner is Bergdorf Goodman, which Parke described as the ultimate seal of approval. She also said e-commerce has doubled organically since last year, even before the brand’s recent digital marketing push.

Next up, Parke has her eyes set on international expansion while also creating a strong presence in stores and online. “Women who shop in the luxury shoe market still go to stores,” she said. “You have to be in both spaces. A mentor told me the best businesses are an eco-system. You need to have it all.”

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