Meet the designer – Calla Shoes
I love to champion new British brands, and my latest find is Calla Shoes. Named after the beautiful lily, Calla Shoes make flattering footwear for women with bunions.
With almost half of adults suffering from bunions (1), this is a timely business to launch. I couldn’t wait to ask the founder and CEO Jennifer Bailey all about her brand.
Meet Jennifer Bailey
Q. What has been the most successful pair of shoes you’ve designed?
A. The most popular pair of shoes is the black high heeled court shoe called the Sophia. This is a staple pair of shoes for every woman’s wardrobe and will go with everything so I’m not surprised it’s so popular.
Q. Can shoes change your life? If so, how?
A. When you have awkward feet, especially bunions, this can affect your life in so many ways. From my own personal experience and the feedback I’ve had from customers, just being able to own and proudly wear a pair of beautiful shoes, when you may have struggled to find a pair for years and years is an incredible feeling.
One customer emailed me recently to tell me how amazing it was that she was able to wear our heels every night on a recent holiday away – something she’s not been able to do for a long time – and she said we’d helped change her life. She wanted to feel glamorous and elegant and felt very strongly that a lovely pair of heels was key to creating this feeling.
Q. What are the elements that make a high heel comfortable?
A. There are several: heel height, pitch of the heel, insole, volume in the toe box, quality of materials used.
In Calla shoes we try to make them as comfortable as possible, and provide additional advice with every pair sold on how to look after your feet when wearing heels. Heels can make bunions worse and although we appreciate the fact that women have certain occasions when only heels will do, we can’t advocate the regular use of them if you want to keep the pain at bay.
Q. What inspires you?
A. I’m inspired by people. By other entrepreneurs who have achieved so much and also by amazing start-ups filled with bags of motivation and passion.
My mother has inspired me as she has always worked full-time and has brought up four children – she made me realise that it wasn’t an impossible task to be very busy in your work life as well as having a family.
Q. What’s your favourite place you’ve traveled with work?
A. My factory is based in Porto in Portugal so outside of the UK that’s where I go every few months. Porto is a very beautiful city and so accessible from the UK.
Q. How did you become a shoe designer?
A. Technically I’m not! My background is in marketing and the driver for starting the business was to solve a personal problem. I know which styles of shoes work for women with bunions, and I use two great shoe designers who have their own collections of shoes, and completely understand what I’m trying to achieve with the designs.
If you like this feature, you’ll love the other interviewees in my Meet the Designer series: Sarah from Yull and Katie from Sargasso & Grey.
Do have a look at Jennifer’s beautiful styles on the Calla Shoes website. If you’re lucky enough not to suffer from bunions, you’ll almost certainly have a friend or family member who does. Please share this fantastic brand with them, so they can feel glamorous despite their bunions.
If you want to start your own shoe brand like Jennifer did, I’d be delighted to hear from you. Send me a message to start making your shoe business dreams a reality. I can’t wait to hear from you!
I discovered your shoes a few months ago and I find Calla shoes very comfortable. I live in Portugal. Is it possible to visit your factory and buy one or two more pairs, please? Or perhaps there is a shop in The Algarve that I could visit
Susannah Davda says
Thank you for your message. I’m sure Jennifer will be delighted that you are a fan of her shoes. I’ll let Jennifer answer your question regarding purchasing her products in The Algarve.
Jennifer Bailey says
Hello Judith – I’m afraid we currently only sell online and it isn’t possible to buy direct from our factories in Porto. I’m glad to hear you like our shoes and do email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you think there is anything else I can do to help you.