(In its series “How I Did It,” FN profiles successful footwear and fashion players — from entrepreneurs to designers to top executives at major brands — and reveals how they carved their path into the industry.)
Angela Scott’s upbringing was anything but typical.
As a foster kid raised alongside three older brothers, she had a “fiercely independent” childhood in Northern California, surrounded by male figures and the need to “keep up with the boys.”
Scott graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, entering the male-dominated field of construction and estate management. Most of her time was spent hustling about unfinished construction sites in a pair of “beautiful but impractical” high heels. “I was falling into that unfortunate stereotype of women in business — the picture of a woman multitasking like a pro in high heels running to keep up with men in their oxfords,” she explained.
After moving to Dallas with her husband in 2009, Scott nabbed a public relations job with luxury retailer Neiman Marcus, where she was enamored of the levels of craftsmanship and detail in men’s dress shoes. From there, things clicked, and Scott molded a business plan; three years later, The Office of Angela Scott was born.
From sophisticated brogues to tailored Chelsea boots, Scott’s collection puts emphasis on design, quality and detail, with every shoe carefully handcrafted in Portugal with materials sourced from Italy. “Women deserve a shoe that’s equal parts beauty and function,” she said.
Here, the unapologetic and headstrong designer explains why she created a footwear brand for women who mean business.
How did you become interested in the footwear industry?
“I think I’ve always had a fascination with footwear. Shoes were always my way of standing out, my unique identifiers. And it’s funny to see how that changed over the years — from my favorite pair of Kangaroos to checkerboard Vans and Nike Cortez, Doc Martens steel-toe [boots], Adidas slides [and] then a slight sneaker-freak moment. And then my first pair of Prada hiking shoes to several pairs of Christian Louboutins to now being what I consider a footwear designer who makes shoes for women who mean business. Shoes you can get s**t done in and still look chic.”
Describe your big break.
“‘Big break’ is something that happens in a really well-told script. Reality is that every day you do what you love is hard work, and there isn’t necessarily one big break but aha moments where you look back and go, ‘Holy s**t, remember when we sold one pair of shoes a week online and thought that was so cool?’ That number has definitely gone up.”
What’s the most surprising or craziest thing you’ve done to get your business going?
“Not surprising, but pretty crazy that the company has been running by the hands of two individuals: myself and my now operations manager, who began as an intern, until 6 months ago … Six and a half years [of] running a full-on footwear business with myself and one other person — that’s pretty gnarly.”
What was one of the major roadblocks you’ve hit along the way?
“I think production is always tricky. I strive so hard to have the most beautifully crafted and impeccably finished product for the women who buy my shoes, but that isn’t always in my hands. From quality issues to material flaws, these roadblocks can definitely make me lose several nights’ sleep. But what doesn’t kill me makes me a better businesswoman, right?”
What would you have done differently?
“Nothing. Never look back; always take yesterday’s lessons as tomorrow’s success.”
What’s the one thing you do every day to be successful?
“Lean in. The adventure isn’t worth the ride unless you have your hands upon the biggest dip on the roller coaster.”
What’s the next big move on your agenda?
“I’d like to expand into accessories that support a woman in her career and also in her journey as a mom. I want to be the brand you go to when your friend gets a promotion, and you want to get her a gift to congratulate her. Or if she is having a baby and going to become a mother — what could I make to support her to feel not only like a soon-to-be mother but a confident, accomplished woman?”
What advice would you give a new designer or someone who wants to join the footwear industry?
“Ask lots of questions and always surround yourself with people who raise you up. That answer feels very Josh Groban, doesn’t it?”
The next big thing in footwear is …
“Go-go gadget boots!”
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