The Sybarite sat down with London based shoe designer, Lucy Choi, to talk about how she stands out in the competitive fashion industry and whether women really can ‘have it all.’
I met Lucy Choi at her recent pop-up event at The Hilton Park Lane. Chicly styled in a smart black tailored two piece, with her sleek pins exposed to highlight her red patent ‘Campbell’ shoes, Lucy seemed completely at ease whilst working the room.
Despite her famous family ties to the world of shoe design (the legendary Jimmy Choo is her uncle), Lucy spent her early working life in the City; “I wanted to make sure I had that business skillset under my belt” she tells me. It was after this that she moved into the shoe industry, working for 10 years at family-owned brand French Sole. Here she noticed that there was a gap in the market for affordable high heels that had a long lasting wearability; “How often do you wear a pair of thousand pound shoes?” she exclaims.
“I decided to create a brand that offers the three C’s: comfort, craftsmanship and character. Shoes that are not that expensive but still have that luxury, designer feel with the wow factor.”
It’s no secret that the world of fashion can be pretty cut-throat, with trends changing like the wind, so how does Choi stay competitive and relevant in today’s fast moving consumerist age?
“I don’t follow trends, I set my own trends. All our shoes are timeless, but they’re creative and they’re new” she tells me. “I want to bring a new concept in every season. I don’t follow what’s going on in the market because that’s short-lived. I push what I believe is strong per season.”
Choi believes that knowing what the customer wants is key to sustaining a successful brand; “I have identity, I know who I am. Lucy Choi London knows exactly who the customers are and what to offer to them.” Refreshingly, rather than watching what others are doing and trying to compete, Lucy has faith in her vision and believes in sticking to what her brand is good at.
At the weekends, Lucy can be found going on relaxing walks around London, observing what people are wearing and taking inspiration from it. “I think it’s so important to turn off your phone at weekends and just live in the moment; enjoy time with your family.”
A stickler for comfort, Lucy is a firm believer that good quality does not necessarily have to mean expensive. It’s the time and effort put into something to make it of a high quality that she feels makes something luxurious. It’s a sentiment she carries through to her shoe designs, and her food palette; a self-confessed foodie, Lucy’s favourite restaurants include Kai and Le Petit Maison in Mayfair.
How would she describe her personal style? “Classic but with a little bit of a twist” she smiles, “exactly how I would describe the brand.” She tells me how Lucy Choi London has a “two Kate ethos – Kate Middleton and Kate Moss” of classic but funky designs to suit every occasion.
Lucy is actually working on a clutch collection and a wedding collection at the moment. However, after much demand, she plans to start work on a men’s range at some point in the future.
Having just opened her first shop on Connaught Street in London last August, Choi is set on taking her brand international. Her shoes are already stocked in Harvey Nichols, Sachs and Fenwicks in locations such as London, Dubai and Singapore. “I would love to have a store in each place I’m selling in” she muses, “I’m hoping that’s something we can do very soon.”
In the midst of such a busy business calendar, and with London Fashion Week fast approaching, I ask Lucy how she balances all of this out with her personal life. “You struggle” she replies.
As the mother of two young boys and the owner of an increasingly successful company, Lucy Choi seems to fall into the archetype of a woman ‘having it all’. “Everybody says “How do you do it? How do you balance it?” Yeah, there are moments where you have help from nannies, but of course, you’re running a business” she tells me.
Lucy travels twice a year to Hong Kong to design the collection, and stresses the importance of ‘me time’ through meditation and solitary walks to clear her head of all the stresses of balancing work and home life. “I try to be organised and write lists but exercise is the main thing” she says, mentioning yoga and pilates as two of her key practices.
Any advice for budding entrepreneurs? “Work hard” she advises, “create a good business plan and have a good team behind you. Without a good team, the brand is not going to work. Believe in yourself and what you set out to do and follow it through.” Her business motto is to “deliver what you promise”
By Aimee Phillips