This week I want to share with you an interview I did with Lucy Choi. She’s the founder of boutique shoe label Lucy Choi London which launched in 2012.
Tell us little bit about what you do now and what you did before you started Lucy Choi?
I spotted a need in the market for stylish, comfortable and affordable but luxurious shoes for women of all ages and tastes. It is the way I like to shop myself. I love to mix boutique brands with designer labels but noticed that even many brands I would consider high street were charging over £200, even £300 for a pair of shoes. I wanted to champion craftsmanship and design and not feel you always have to spend hundreds of pounds. Why can’t luxury be accessible?
I decided not to go straight into the shoe industry but instead began my career by spending 8 years working in financial business. I then joined French Sole in 2002 to help them to build the brand and grow the company both in the UK and internationally. I eventually became the MD and oversaw every aspect of the business including the retail, website, wholesale business plus the marketing and PR. It prepared me well and I gained a sound knowledge of the mid price shoe market and its customers.
How did you discover your true passion?
I am the niece of the legendary shoemaker Jimmy Choo, and my Uncle has always inspired and mentored me. Growing up I was in the enviable and fortunate position of seeing how handmade shoes are made by a top designer and I truly understand that both quality and style are paramount in a shoe. Shoes are in my genes and have always been my true passion. When the time was right I followed my heart into the shoe industry.
Successful women always seem so perfect on the outside, but everyone who’s ‘made it’ knows that the journey is filled with wrong turns, set backs and even failure.
Can you reveal some of the struggles you’ve had setting up Lucy Choi?
One of the biggest challenges I faced initially was struggling to find a good team to support me, who understand my vision and brand strategy. I employ 5 full time staff and I look for passion, loyalty and staff who are not afraid to work hard. Success does not magically happen overnight and you need to put the hours in. As a young brand I need my team to have a lot of energy, initiative and to be really hands on.
Financing is a big hurdle for new ventures too. To start my brand I invested my own money in the business and even sold my flat I had owned for 10 years, and whilst that was very daunting, it is also what drives me forward to make my business a success.
At DrivenWoman we always talk about ‘enjoying the journey’. Life is not about achieving but about doing something that gives us a meaning every day and can eventually make us successful and happy.
Have you been able to ‘enjoy the journey’ and what are your daily rituals that help you be present?
I love what I do and am enjoying the journey. I see my journey as continually evolving which makes me strive more. When I launched my label I also gave birth to my son around the same time so I have had to become more efficient and work on less sleep. I also don’t have the time to waste on negatives. My day to day life is very busy and my sacrosanct ritual is a regular yoga session at least once a week which help me relax, focus and re-balance. I also love to relax by walking around London exploring new places with my husband and son, it allows us family time to unwind, talk and connect.
The part of my journey that I enjoy is learning something new everyday. I learnt a great deal in my previous company by helping them to grow within the UK and internationally. I also love seeing new talent develop within the next generation and frequently employ interns – we all bounce new ideas off each other.
If you’d have to pick one thing in the life of an ambitious woman that will make her BOTH happy and successful (not just successful!), what would that be?
The one thing in my life that makes me feel both successful and happy is having a balanced work life and contented family life. To make any business work you have to have a strong, reliable team in the office and a strong partnership at home. My husband’s indefatigable support has allowed me to juggle both the birth of my business and our son. Being able to combine the two most important parts of my life makes me feel fulfilled and is the way I measure my success.
Miisa’s interview with Lucy Choi