Dreams do come true! Two sisters love shoes to the point that collecting is no longer enough and decided to go big and reach for their dreams. It’s one thing to love a brand but it’s more fabulous to BE the brand.
Meet Celyn and Trif Sala, the designers of Sala Chaussures. Young shoepreneurs who have just launched their stiletto brand winter of 2013. From the brand name itself, the designs give women a taste of decadent footwear. You’ll find pink silk heels, brooch peeptoes, almond toe pumps with wings, and even a pair of flat sandals embellished with pearls. They truly believe that every woman deserves some decadence in their life – whether through a box of chocolate or shoes.
“What we are selling is a little bit of glamour, a little bit of decadence that you can inject into your day, and the idea that you don’t have to be too extravagant or too trendy to stand out.”
Like any bootstrap business, building a shoe brand from scratch was no walk in the park. It took research, several flopped manufacturing, endless production hurdles and not to mention the severity of expenses. They were always at it, reminding themselves to always Stand Tall and Aim Higher.
Now fresh from breaking the entry point, Celyn and Trif are determine to take shoe world one stiletto at a time!
Meet these lovely ladies who prove time and time again that dreams really do come true.
Each shoe brand has its distinctive character. What is the signature identity of Sala Chaussures?
The Central theme to our brand is decadence. We want to bring back ladylike dressing, and advocate wearing gorgeous shoes without having to wait for a special occasion. One should also make it a point to have a daily dose of decadence in general, and not just with shoes.
Name your top 3 shoes from your collection.
We really love all them! But here is our top three anyway: The Pegasus, The Hera and the Frangipani from the new Spring Line.
You dreamt of having your own shoe line for awhile, what made you decide you could pursue it as a profession?
We’ve always loved shoes for as long as we could remember! Celyn has been writing a shoe blog (lifeisashoe.blogspot.com) since 2009. Her friends have been telling her for the longest time to design her own shoes already. Trifina got her first pair of heels at age 9, and used to own over a hundred pairs of shoes at one point. She would walk around the college campus in stilettos! Never mind the occasional stiletto stuck between the pavement cracks.
Sometime last year we were having a conversation about how difficult it was to find the kind of shoes we like, at price points that we could actually afford. Shoes that focus on SHAPE and wear ability, rather than striving too hard to be “edgy” or “high fashion” or “trendy”. Shoes that would actually take into account the wearer, how they would lengthen the legs, if you could actually WALK in them – and it just hit us – why don’t we just MAKE our own shoes? So then sometime last year, we just went ahead and did it!
Did you take formal training in footwear design and manufacturing? How much of your talent is self-taught, how much is learned?
Most are learned through some experiences and some are self-taught. When we started, all we knew was that we wanted to make beautiful shoes. Most of what we know came from years of examining shoes and trying on high heels, and having a general idea of what we look for in a shoe. We then tried to narrow down the specific aspects of what we believe is the “perfect shoe” - the silhouette, how the arch should look, how high/thick the heel should be, and applied those concepts to creating our first prototypes. There was a LOT of costly trial and error, which I think is the best way to learn (minus the costly part). Each new shoe, each new collection, each new material is a learning experience. We do realize how important it is to understand the technical aspects that go into shoe making and formal studies are a big part of our plans.
What keeps you inspired?
The same reason that made us start our own shoe line in the first place. Also, kindred spirits/ other shoe lovers who just GET IT! People who are looking for the same things as we are, those who completely understand that we are not selling comfort, nor trendy shoes for everybody. What we are selling is a little bit of glamour, a little bit of decadence that you can inject into your day, and the idea that you don’t have to be too extravagant or too trendy to stand out. Figure out your style, and wear our shoes as the perfect complement. We always like to tell each other - Stand Tall and Aim Higher – and I guess our heels are symbolic of that.
What advice do you have for aspiring shoe designers in the industry?
From the very beginning, DEFINE YOUR BRAND. Too often we see designers diluting their brand identity to cater to a wider audience, or to produce copies of “of-the-moment” iconic shoes that are easier to sell. There’s nothing wrong with making shoes for everybody, however we just think it’s such a shame that talent and creativity are sacrificed for mass appeal.
What problems you have encountered in running your business and how you were able to resolve it.
Definitely execution. There are a lot of very skilled shoe-makers who have honed their craft over the years. However, it takes a bit of imagination to grasp what we are trying to create. The first few ones we went to always asked for “a sample of an actual shoe we can copy”. We didn’t have samples, and were adamant about not copying, all our designs were from scratch. We have been very lucky to have finally found some suppliers who are willing to listen intently and expand their imagination a little bit, to understand the general concepts of what we want to create. From there we tweak, and edit and revise until it finally comes out the way we want it.
What can you say to encourage up and comers in the industry?
Do it with passion. If you don’t like your own product and are only interested in selling or making money, then forget it. You can’t sell something you don’t believe in anyway. Another thing that’s important for me also is that you must never, ever lose sight of your vision. As mentioned in our previous answer, DEFINE YOUR BRAND. Don’t sacrifice your brand identity for the purpose of making a sale. Stick to it then develop it and find ways to get your vision across to people.
Also, don’t copy! Just Don’t. It’s fine to be inspired by certain designs, and to incorporate similar elements but do NOT copy. Period.
What is your most shoephoric moment?
Celyn: Probably the day when we announced that we were launching our own shoe line. We started working on this a year ago but we didn’t tell anyone. We finally told all our friends like a month or two before launching and we loved that they were all supportive and that most of them either said: “Finally, you’re doing this” or “You guys were meant for this” I love how they all know and understand our love for shoes!
Trifina: Mine came even before we told anybody we were making shoes. It was the moment one of the more complicated shoe prototypes finally came out juuust riiight, after months of frustrated trial and error. I just remember thinking “OMG OMG THAT’S IT!! THAT’S IT!! The product of our imagination and clumsy sketches and numerous swatches and now it’s finally here!!” I realized that I would still keep making shoes even if nobody buys them. =)
How is it working with each other in Sala Chaussures?
We both do the designing and conceptualization of the shoes. So I guess you can say that we’re both the creative directors of SALA. Trifina handles most of the financials and also conceptualization of bazaar displays and shoe editorials and vignettes. Celyn handles most operational, sales and marketing concerns.
Our personalities are very similar. We both love decadent and pretty looking shoes. We both also agree that we’re not really into super edgy, huge-chunky-platform shoes. We want to return to dainty and delicate and beautiful details. We want the rebirth of the stiletto heel. And we want it to stay. Above all, more than the design is the overall structure of the shoe. We want our shoes to have the perfect arch, heel height and proportions. The pretty designs follow after the great structure of the shoes. In terms of design, it’s funny how sometimes when an idea pops into one’s head, we call or text each other right away and it turns out the other had almost the exact same idea!
There are both a PRO and a CON as working together as sisters – You can’t take a break - EVER. Any moment can turn into a detailed discussion or meeting on upcoming collections, supplier concerns, or financial forecasts.
Another PRO is that we’re forced to stick it out together – we’re family, and would never dream of buying the other out.
Another pro is that we spend a loooot of the time talking about shoes anyway in normal times, so now that it’s also already part of work, it’s fun!
Can you describe your current collection?
To start : here is the description and aesthetic of our brand:
A Dose of Decadence - Decadent SHOES in limited runs for imaginative girls who love the thrill of stepping out in something EXTRAORDINARY. Born out of a love for stilettos and all things pretty and DECADENT, we decided to start our own shoe line after many attempts to find the kind of shoes that we love. Shoes with the perfect arch, just the right heel height, not too much edge, and above all, a timeless style that one can wear in any year or era.
Our Debut Collection: Holiday 2013 was inspired by characters in Greek Mythology. Mythical, beautiful and strong. Something we hope this collection.
The Pegasus. - black heeled pumps with wings, inspired by the mythical flying horse
The Hera - A gorgeous cerulean blue peep toe heel with peacock feathers, Hera’s favorite bird.
The Atalanta - A classic nude Pump with a really pretty bow up front. This shoe was inspired by a strong and independent female huntress in Greek Mythology. We came out with a red version as well.
The Basilisk: Ankle strap pumps inspired by this fearsome creature. The straps encircle the ankles, similar to how a snake winds around its prey.
Our Spring/Summer 2014 collection is all about forest dwellers, flora and fauna you can find in the jungle.
The Okapi - a barely there stiletto sandal with purple crisscross straps in the front and a zebra print ankle strap.
The Cascabel -A snakeskin textured peeptoe d’orsay inspired by the rattlesnake
The Frangipani - a hot pink satin pump.
The San Rem Damselfy – our signature flat thong sandal that pops up every season – this time embellished with the female dragonfly.
Previous variations include the Metallon (embellished with a bejeweled disk), and the Luna (embellished with faux pearls)
What are your aspirations for the future?
Grow our brand some more and hopefully getting the message across to all women to wear decadent, dainty gorgeous special shoes more often!
We also want to find the time to take formal shoe making courses, and learn “best practice” techniques, from artisanal shoemakers, then bring those techniques back and pass on to our local shoemakers. I think the skill level is there, and would love to be able to elevate the quality of our products.