The entrepreneur and shoe authority talks about changing corporate culture, designing the hit shoe of the summer, and relocating to Los Angeles.
Photography By ELIAS TAHAN
Written By JACK SUNNUCKS
Styling By KEEGAN SINGH
Makeup By JAMIE KELLER
“I was at a friend’s Christmas party on Saturday night, and there were a few Tamara Mellons walking around the room, and it made me feel so good,” laughs Tamara Mellon, talking not about a new cloning technology she has invested in, but rather her eponymous footwear brand. Mellon—who as you probably know made her name as co-founder of the Jimmy Choo empire—is back, with a fresh business enterprise and relocation to Los Angeles. “I’m loving it here,” she says of the West Coast. “It’s more casual, and I’m influenced by that,” she continues, before dealing what one suspects is a typically pithy bon mot, in her fabulous British tones. “But I think if you look at fashion nowadays, the world is flat—people dress the same everywhere.”
Mellon is well acquainted with her new hometown. “I used to come to LA to do a lot of vintage shopping for inspiration. And a lot of inspiration I had for Jimmy Choo came from LA,” she says, which is evident from her über-glamorous take on footwear. “I think LA is having this renaissance that’s so interesting, and the city is so much more diverse than it used to be. The art world is exploding, the tech startups, a lot of fashion people are moving here. I feel very inspired to be here right now.”
It’s not only physical location that’s inspiring her; Mellon also wants a working environment more attuned to the needs of her female colleagues. “I wanted to create a company with a very different culture than what my last company became,” she says. “I wanted a culture that was really supportive for women, [that was] an activist for women’s rights, encouraged them, employed them.” She felt the best place to start that kind of culture would be with her CEO. “This time around, I have a female CEO. All of my other CEOs were co-hired by the private equity, so I felt like I had these arranged marriages! This time around, having a female CEO has made the culture so different in the office.”
We often say we care more about the woman feeling great than we do about the shoe.
The business model is also different: direct to consumer, rather than the traditional retail–wholesale dynamic. This change has had an immediate effect—not just on how they sell, but also on how Mellon designs. “I don’t design collections anymore,” she says, sounding rather thrilled. “We just put out new things every month that are seasonally appropriate. So I don’t have to design these giant collections and be on a fashion calendar.” Essentially, we’re looking at Mellon 2.0 – a socially conscious, future-looking, tech-savvy businesswoman. “Obviously, I’m still obsessed with shoes and I love designing shoes,” she laughs. “I just wanted to do it with a different business model, with the freedom to say and do what I wanted to do!”
She has already had one hit—the Frontline, an update on the strappy sandal with clear straps—that Beyoncé and the first ladies of Calabasas have worn. Her next hit, she muses, might be the After Hours, a “disco shoe for the holidays,” which sounds completely fabulous. And she is looking to expand her team of 20 people. “I always say that happy people are productive people. Running a company by fear is not productive in the end.” She ponders the seismic changes women are bringing about, which are shaking the corporate world as we speak. “I think we’ve seen women rise up in 2017 like we’ve never seen before, and I hope women’s voices continue to be heard. There’s definitely going to be a shift in culture, in work environments, and I want to support that with my business.” She finishes her impassioned train of thought with another well-chosen Mellonism. “We often say we care more about the woman feeling great than we do about the shoe.” If she continues on this path, it seems Mellon might achieve greatness for both.
What is the atmosphere of your bedroom?
It’s very zen. I keep it as a place of quiet and peace—all light colors.
Please describe your bed and your favorite thing about it.
It’s so squishy and soft.
What time do you wake up?
Between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m., depending on what I’m doing that day.
How many hours of sleep do you require?
I need eight, which I never get. But it’s always my goal to get eight hours. I just bought the Slip Sleep Mask from Violet Grey, because my partner likes the shades open in the morning. I need it blacked out to sleep.
Do you drink coffee or tea, eat breakfast?
I don’t eat breakfast, but I have two giant coffees in the morning.
Do you work out in the a.m.?
I work out at 8:30 a.m. I do barre exercises and calisthenics.
What is your morning skincare regimen?
I exfoliate, cleanse, and moisturize. Before I moisturize, I spray water on my face and put the moisturizer on damp skin. This helps keep the skin hydrated.
What makeup and products do you use on a daily basis?
What’s your hair situation in the a.m.?
Pretty messy. I’m lucky, though: I just have to brush it out and put it in a ponytail.
What’s the first thing you read each morning?
I read the Financial Times and WWD.
What business do you conduct before 10 a.m.?
I usually answer some emails.
What time do you head to your office?
At 10:00 a.m.