13 Successful Shoe Designers & Female Entrepreneurs Give Advice on Finding Success

In honor of International Women’s Day, shoe industry leaders and more female entrepreneurs shared with FN their thoughts on the importance of empowering other women.

Here, Tabitha Simmons, Chloe Gosselin, Sarah Flint and more power players offer advice on finding success and achieving goals. Take a look.

Tabitha Simmons, Founder & Designer, Tabitha Simmons

Weston Wells; Tabitha Simmons;
Tabitha Simmons
CREDIT: Weston Wells

On staying the course: “Being an entrepreneur, it’s important to stay true to what you believe in and just be yourself. If you fall off your horse, get back on and remember why you started on this incredible adventure in the first place.”
On empowering other women: “I am a woman designing for other women while simultaneously wearing the hat of a stylist, designer and a mother. I always try to encourage and inspire all women to be the best version of themselves and break through that glass ceiling. Women can do it all, and it is important to lead with kindness along the way.”

Amy Smilovic, Founder & Creative Director, Tibi

Tibi Amy Smilovic
Amy Smilovic
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

On achieving success: “I have to say my entrepreneurial advice is gender-neutral, and to all entrepreneurs, I recommend that you first break down your goal: define them by year, by month, by week and then by day. Sometimes looking at things in a larger picture is like trying to take a sip of water from a fire hose. When you break the tasks down, you start to think: I can do this. But remember to always step back and ask if what you are doing links back to where you want to be at the end of the week, then the month, then the year.”
On self-care: “Feeling great about myself is really important for my confidence. If I don’t have confidence, then I can’t get anything done. Because at the end of the day, you’re selling yourself as much as your product.”

Sarah Flint, CEO, Designer & Founder, Sarah Flint

Sarah Flint
Sarah Flint
CREDIT: Sarah Flint

On staying the course: “Stay focused and continue to bring yourself back to the initial ambition that inspired you to start your company. Remaining dedicated to the original pillars of your business will help keep you on track through the challenging moments. It’s easy to get swayed in different directions, but I always make sure I stop and think about what’s most important. In our case, it’s the customer experience.”
On empowering other women: “As a brand, we embrace and empower women by telling their stories. We feature dynamic, successful women of different ages, industries and backgrounds in our newsletters, social channels and — coming soon — on our new website. I’m very passionate about building a network of incredible women who support each other and sharing their stories with our customers.”

Chloe Gosselin, Founder & Designer, Chloe Gosselin

Chloe Gosselin
Chloe Gosselin

On staying the course: “Being a young female entrepreneur is a 24/7 job that is very immersive and can be stressful and consuming. However, I always try to remember how lucky and privileged I am to do what I love. I had a dream and made it a reality, and that is worth fighting for. My advice to other female entrepreneurs would be to never lose sight of this dream and of why you do what you do and always come back to this first idea as your center and motor to keep going.”
On empowering other women: “I would be nowhere without the help of my mentors, and I hope that I can be that person for someone one day. I try to use my voice for other women as much as I can — connecting people together and working with a strong team of women, supporting and raising awareness for non-profits that I believe in, like Planned Parenthood. But my biggest mission is to empower my daughter and her generation, to give them the necessary tools to feel free, independent and ‘in charge’ of their own lives.”

Sofia Oliveira, Co-Founder, Josefinas

Sofia Oliveira
Sofia Oliveira
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

On staying positive: “Some days are hard, some days are really rough, [but] keep going back to your core values. At Josefinas, this means to always keep thinking about the women we’re helping and how we’re trying to shape the world into a better place for women. When it’s bigger than you, the authentic and inner beliefs of your company are what keep you going.”
On self-preservation: “I used to think that self-care wasn’t that important if you wanted to succeed in business. But I found out that that belief was 100 percent wrong. You’re only your best version if your head is in the right place. You need to make time for you and for what makes you happy.”

Elle AyoubZadeh, Founder & Creative Director, Zvelle

ellie ayoubzadeh zvelle
Elle AyoubZadeh
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

On staying the course: “I’ve always been purpose-driven, and that’s been my anchor in life. When you know your ‘why,’ it’s a lot easier to make decisions on the ‘what’ or ‘who.’ If you know your ‘why,’ it doesn’t matter if you feel motivated or positive as these things come and go. We’re human.”
On empowering other women: “I started Zvelle on the premise of celebrating women through the stories we tell and creations we share. When I started the company, I saw a problem. As a global citizen and a woman, I couldn’t relate to the way women were portrayed in fashion. I didn’t believe then and I don’t believe today that there is one standard for beauty, body or style. We have an interview series called ‘Zvelle in Conversation’ where we talk to fascinating women from all walks of life. Through these conversations, we’re adding their voices to ours to empower women everywhere to tell their stories.”

Kendall Reynolds, Founder, CEO & Design Director, Kendall Miles

Kendall Reynolds
Kendall Reynolds
CREDIT: Courtesy image

On empowering other women: “This should be a daily occurrence. Whether it’s speaking up for someone who can’t, a simple compliment or offering a hand to someone who seems overwhelmed, using your voice is necessary even at times where it seems scary. I wear a microphone pendant necklace to empower myself to speak up for those who can’t afford to speak up for themselves — this works for me. [This is important] especially in business because we cannot trust men to empower women for us. Women did not create gender inequality, but our fight, organization, unity and feminist initiatives are our only chance of beating and escaping it. Empowering other women to see, feel and live in their full potential is crucial to the process. “

Gillian Meek, President, Keds

Keds Gillian Meek
Gillian Meek
CREDIT: Doug Levy

On staying positive: “If attitude is everything, then believing you can achieve is critical. If you can make progress every day, no matter how big or small, it helps you stay the course.”
On self-care: “In my opinion, self-preservation is the starting point for anyone in business and/or in life. You have to nourish your own mind and body to be your best self for the task ahead, whether you are a self-starting entrepreneur or part of a large organization.”
On empowering other women: “Team has always been important to me, and I take great pride and ownership in listening to my team.”

Lydia Park Luis, CEO, Jack Rogers

Lydia Park Luis
Lydia Park Luis
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

On staying the course: “Be yourself and confident in what you bring to the table. There’s strength to who you are, as you are. The diversity you bring with your strategies and thinking are important for your growth as well as the company’s.”
On self-care: “Without our health, both mental and physical, we really can’t do anything. I practice gratefulness every morning and am thankful for being able to wake up with my family and just to do the normal everyday things.”
On empowering other women: “It’s one of the blessings to be able work with amazing women at all levels at Jack Rogers. We help each other to always have professional courage, face the difficult discussions and also to be better people. In addition, I’ve been fortunate to have the ability to speak with male leaders to share how they can engage and empower women in their organizations, as well.”

Nicole Colovos, Co-Founder, Colovos

Nicole and Michael Colovos
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

On empowering other women: “Support women you work for and women who work for you. I have been in several situations where it has been insinuated that a woman can’t do a certain job or can’t handle a certain position, are emotional, or a comment has been made about how they look, which has nothing to do with their professional role. I had to fight against that stereotype for myself and others on many occasions. I am fortunate to have amazing and inspiring friends who are incredible businesswomen. I always support them and love championing them to others as often as I can. We are so incredibly powerful if we support each other.”

Valerie Messika, Founder & Designer, Messika

Valerie Messika
Valerie Messika
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

On keeping motivated: “My advice would be to stay focused, never let it down, know what your priorities are and don’t feel overwhelmed. The most important thing is to maintain passion for whatever you do.”

Norma Kamali, Founder & Designer, Norma Kamali

Norma Kamali
Norma Kamali
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

On self-care: “If a woman feels good about herself, she is unstoppable. The three pillars of a healthy lifestyle are sleep, diet and exercise. All three are no extra cost, and taking the time to create a ritual for each is the commitment.”
On empowering other women: “I believe knowing your purpose in this lifetime is an incredible power in steering your life. I understood early on that my role was to do all I can to make women feel good about themselves, not just with clothing, but by sharing all I have learned about living a healthy lifestyle. I am committed to sharing all I know about wellness, being a female entrepreneur and all the stages women experience in their passages.”

Leora Elituv, Founder & Creative Director, Kisuii

Leora Elituv
Leora Elituv
CREDIT: Rommel Demano

On finding success: “Carve out the life and work balance that works best. I recognize the core elements that I need in order to continue moving forward with positive energy. I make sure to surround myself with people who compliment my skill sets. I bring in employees and turn to mentors from whom I will be able to learn and improve. I have zero qualms about recruiting team members who may be smarter or more experienced in areas where I possess lesser talents.”

Want More?

We Should Celebrate International Women’s Day — but We Shouldn’t Be Satisfied

How to Support International Women’s Day While Shopping

Keds Redefines What It Means to Be a ‘Lady’ for International Women’s Day

imbox Sponsored

Customer Experience, Revenue Stream and Sustainability Come Wrapped in an IMBOX

Sustainable, footwear protection technology company, IMBOX Protection, is bringing its in-store service to the U.S. market for increased foot traffic and basket size with a new revenue stream.
Learn More

Access exclusive content