10 QUESTIONS WITH EMMY SCARTERFIELD, FOUNDER OF EMMY LONDON
1.) Good morning Emmy, welcome to The Chelsea Musings! Can you pinpoint an early memory involving beautiful shoes?
I have a couple! When I was around two, one of my first memories is putting building blocks in my socks to create my own high heels. We had a big kitchen with flag stone floors and I absolutely loved and fell in love with the noise of the clip cloppy make shift shoes on the hard floor, so I think my obsession with shoes and my love affair with shoes was born right there and then. Then on about my ninth birthday, my Mum and Dad got me an extra birthday present which they put under my pillow, and they were painted, burgundy slip on shoes that had a kind of rotating strap so you could either have it as a mary jane or as a slip on. Obviously I went for the slip on option! They put them under my pillow just before my party and I can just remember feeling like it was the most magical moment, and I really didn’t care about the party after that, all I wanted to do was tap away in my shoes and look at them lovingly.
When I first started the brand Emmy London I was really passionate about making in Britain and celebrating our craftsmanship, and so I lovingly hand embroidered some uppers and found this workshop that could make shoes by hand. I went with the uppers to this workshop and asked them to make these shoes and when I went to collect them I burst into tears. They thought it was out of joy but it was actually out of horror because they were dirty, all the crystals had smashed off and they looked really hideously made - like really home made in a bad way. My mission to make in Britain died right before my eyes because the sad state of affairs is that we’ve lost our craftsmanship and machinery, especially in women’s footwear. So it was one of my first pivotal points in opening a business.
2.) You worked for some brilliant brands before launching Emmy London. Was there anyone who particularly inspired you in the earlier stages of your career?
Yes, a couple of people. When I moved to Milan I worked with a French designer called Stephan Janson. He was a little bit volatile, hugely creative and dedicated and had a very, very strong defined sense of style and very recognisable sense of style. Even though this didn’t massively appeal to me personally, that kind of dedication to a real sort of strong look I really admired. He taught me to be very free with my thinking and creativity. For example one bag and shoe collection I did with him was inspired by grapes, so not the generic 'start with a moodboard and look at other people’s shoes’ project. It was very creative in the true sense of the word. The other person that really inspired me during that time was a guy called Stuart Vevers, who is now creative director of COACH. He like me moved to London from Milan not really knowing anyone or the language, and we worked really well together. He really inspired me just with his sense of ambition, attention to detail and his ability to design a collection, work with a factory, work with makers and really make it happen, and visualise how it was all going to come together as a collection, so I learnt a lot from him.
3.) At what point did you know it was time to launch your own luxury brand?
I had always wanted to do my own luxury brand, so it was really just a matter of time. I had come to a point in my career where I had worked abroad, had worked for big fashion houses and had learnt so much. I did a spell of freelancing for other designers facilitating their accessories collection, so brands that were really successful in clothing but hadn’t really made much progress in accessories. So I designed, sourced, produced, distributed shoes and accessories for a few brands. I use the word facilitate because what I realised is even though I was offering a wealth of experience and contact, I was literally just facilitating their ideas, which I found really unfulfilling. I had all the infrastructure to do my own collection and just thought, even though I was earning good money and I was busy, I wanted to take the risk and plunge to really indulge my own creative vision and start in London.
4.) What inspires new ideas for collections?
Lots of things really inspire our collections and mostly they are experiential rather than tangible references. So for example I did a collection based on a holiday that I’d had near the lakes and it was called ‘Canchello', which is Italian for gates, so I did a whole collection based on gates and botanical leaves growing through the gates. That was just a very beautiful moment in time that really sparked an idea. The last collection was called ‘Meadow Dreaming’ which was based on a meadow that I got stuck outside in a traffic jam in West Wales, and actually instead of getting really frustrated with traffic I just really enjoyed that moment and just saw so much beauty in what I saw in-front of me. The current collection we are working on is based on a garden party, so just that whole essence of the floral attributes, dress code and the British etiquette. I think one thing is for sure, that the inspiration never comes from shoes, it’s always experimental. Within the garden party we are looking at bugs and wings formation, and things like that.
5.) Your collections have a real dream-like quality and delicacy to them, who do you have in mind when you are designing?
I think that is our signature, to be very refined, delicate and feminine. Our customer base, particularly our brides, are all so different, I think the one thing they have in common is the pure love of shoes. Shoes do something magical to a women that fascinates me. So I have to say, as indulgent as it sounds, I think when I design a new collection I think of what I would like, which sounds completely selfish but actually it's an approach that seems to work. I'm not really out there, so if I like it there tends to be a few other people who like it too!
6.) Who makes Emmy London shoes?
All the designing and developing and all the detailing gets designed here in London in our design studio. We have a team of craftsmen who are based in our North Portugal workshop, and all our leathers and suedes come from the best ever tannery in Italy. Then we also have a team of hand embroiders that create all the intricate details.
7.) The British social season is in full swing, with long periods of time spend standing, walking or dancing at fabulous events. What makes Emmy London shoes stand the test of time?
We are dedicated to comfort and balance and we believe the combination of those two things make you really confident at any event. The way we achieve that is we really pioneer the perfection of balance and ergonomics with our shoes. So when I’m talking about balance and shoes, I’m talking about how the heel fits exactly to the last, because if you feel 100% balanced in high heels, you can walk, stand, dance confidently. We also engineer and pioneer to perfect out extra padding in our insole boards, which makes shoes kinder to your feet and make it possible to stand, dance and walk for long periods of time. We also have designs that have strategic straps which are designed to give you all the support you need for you to feel fully secure but remain flattering.
8.) Are there any new arrivals we can look forward to?
We have just launched our summer edit which has some beautiful bright slides and party sandals, so if you’ve not checked those out then do! We are currently working on a new collection and have some really sexy, fashion forward styles in some beautiful tones, and we have a new heel height and shape that we are excited about.
9.) It is hard work balancing a thriving business alongside family, social events, etc - daunting at times! What advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to take the first step towards creating their dream brand or business?
There is so much that you could potentially worry about and there is only so much planning you can do. I think a business plan is absolutely essential, but do this discipline not for the bank manager or someone else, this plan really is for you. This is a plan so that you know what you’re doing, you can stick to it. It’s very easy to get distracted, lose sight of what you are trying to achieve and it's actually really hard to gauge with the chaos of family life and business life to actually register when you achieve those things. So do a business plan for you and stick it on your wall at home if you need to - sometimes I feel I need a bit of a poster saying who I am, what I’m doing and what I’ve done, because the other thing I think is that it is really easy to lose yourself and lose your focus, that you forget to celebrate your done list, because you are so focussed on your to do list. I think learning the art of switching off is absolutely paramount. I have become quite an expert in this which has meant I can focus on being mum, wife, friend, sister, daughter when I need to do that, and when I’m in work mode I’m fully focussed on that and for me that really works. Blending all of those roles can lead to so much stress and just that sense that you are not doing any of it particularly well.
10.) When you're not busy creating or growing your business, where can you be found?
Don’t get me wrong, I do have days where I’m like this is all too much, and where I can be found in those moments is strolling or jogging on the heath which we live quite close to and where I feel is the gem of London and feel so lucky to live so close by to. It gives me that dose of fresh air and little slice of country side in amongst the hub of chaotic life. Other than that I'll be on the sofa with a glass of wine!
Visit Emmy London’s flagship store at 74 Fulham Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 6HH, United Kingdom | Website: please click here | Tel: + 44 (0) 207 704 0012