We chat to Lucy Choi, the founder of Lucy Choi London.
Designed for sophisticated modern woman, Lucy Choi London is a brand that loves to experiment with unusual combinations of textures and colours to reflect many personalities of ambitious and savvy woman who looks for quality and luxury but at the best possible price.
Blix caught up with Lucy to find out where she gets her creative inspiration from, her motivation to start her own business and favourite places in London.
Hi Lucy. Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Shoes are part of my DNA! As a child, I would always watch my uncle Jimmy craft beautiful bespoke shoes and so I have always known that fashion and footwear were an inevitable part of my destiny and that I would eventually follow my heart and family into the shoe industry.
But I learnt the hard way! I could have chosen an easier path by joining the family business, but instead I decided to gain my own experience in the business & fashion worlds first.
Prior to entering the shoe industry, I studied Business at Birmingham University and steered my first career towards the city, spending over 8 years in the financial business world, before joining French Sole, where I became the MD. After 10 happy years at French Sole, I felt it was the right time for a change. The development of my own brand Lucy Choi London was a natural and logical step for me to take to fulfill my desire of launching my own shoe label and it was at this turning point in my career that I felt I had enough skills in business, finance and fashion to set up my own venture with confidence. I value what I have learnt in the corporate and fashion worlds so highly and as a result I have been able to apply all my experience and knowledge of business and fashion into launching my own brand.
I juggle running my business with my family life, as I am also happily married with two young sons, giving birth to my first son the same year as I launched the brand and then giving birth to my second son just months after opening my first boutique in London! I always love a challenge! I spend most of the year in London, whilst making regular trips to my native Hong Kong and to Italy and Spain to oversee the shoe production.
What triggered you to launch your own business?
From working in the shoe industry for 10 years I saw clearly that there was a gap in the market for stylish and luxurious, but also comfortable and affordable, shoes for all occasions, and for women of all ages and tastes. The Lucy Choi London ethos was born out of my idea to create affordable luxury, and questioning, why should you always feel you must spend hundreds of pounds for a pair of beautiful shoes! I noticed that there were huge disparities in price ranges between other brands, with designers charging over £900 and high street stores charging very low prices and also prices up to £200. My idea is to pioneer both craftsmanship and design, alongside an ethos that luxury should be accessible and affordable. My shoes must fit my 3 C’s: Comfort, Craftsmanship and character.
Every time I design a pair of shoes I think of our motto “Rock and Royal”, which to me is typified by the two Kates – style icons Kate Moss and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge. Some shoes represent the edgy and iconic Kate Moss, other shoes the elegant and classic Kate Middleton, and many are a combination of the two! They will always stay in an affordable price range, but they must always have that wow factor!
Can you tell us a bit about your latest collection?
My AW16 collection is named after iconic Bond Girls and Bond Women. I wanted to celebrate these empowered, sexy and strong leading ladies, and the shoes reflect these qualities with confident shapes and striking features. We have introduced a striking new range of block heels too which I’m excited about. I love to play with different textures and for this collection I’ve used pony hair, a kaleidoscope of leathers, tartans, furs and snakeskins to create exciting new designs.
Where can we find your shoes?
Our shoes are sold from our flagship boutique in London at 18 Connaught Street, which opened last year. We are online at lucychoilondon.com and selected styles are sold through stockists all over the world. In the UK retailers include Net-A-Porter, matchesfashion.com, Harvey Nichols nationwide, Fenwick of Bond Street, Wolf & Badger of Dover Street, Anna Boutique, Questionnaire Boutique, Arnotts in Dublin and over 80 further high end boutiques across the UK. The collection is sold internationally at Harvey Nichols Dubai and Hong Kong and Saks Fifth Avenue Dubai and boutiques in Dublin, Italy, Belgium, Singapore and the Middle East.
Where do you like to eat and go out in London, any top tips?
For shopping, as I live in Bayswater so I love to shop at 202, and also Wolf and Badger in Notting Hill where it’s great to discover and support the new designers in the fashion world. I also love all of the beautiful boutiques in Connaught Village near my shop, which are perfect if you are looking for something unique and special.
We are curious about your hobbies and interests..
At the weekends I love to relax by switching my phone off, walking around London with my two sons and my husband. I enjoy playing tennis, exploring new places, and spending time with my family. It’s so vital to have family time to unwind, talk and connect.
When you are not busy working, what do you like to do to unwind and relax?
It’s very important to me to have balance in my life and to have both a successful and happy work life and a contented family life. It is tricky to switch off when you run your own business, but I make sure I’m home to see my sons in the mornings before work and in the evenings after work. Finding calmness within is so important to me, and so my sacrosanct ritual is a regular one-to-one yoga session with my Yoga teacher Jo Arthur, which helps me to relax, focus and re-balance. She is brilliant and comes to my place, due to my busy schedule. Rather than taking holidays, I like to give myself a few regular treats, so I also have a Reflexologist, Jess Appleby, who comes in every Sunday night. It’s one of my guilty pleasures and something I cannot live without!
What does a typical day look like for you?
Busy! I love the challenge and no day is the same. I start each day with a long shower and some ‘me time’ – it’s where I get time to think! I need order and routine, and I do like things to be planned, as even if things don’t always go exactly to plan, I can fix things or work around it. I find it hard to let go and delegate but find that this tenacity is quite important running my label, as I am involved in every aspect of the business from the creative side, liaising with my factories, to looking after the budgets, forecasting, recruitment, sales, events, logistics, marketing and PR. One day I could be meeting with buyers, or with press talking about the new collection, and the next I could be in Hong Kong, Spain or Italy overseeing the production.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
I really have two – it would have to be my Uncle Jimmy and my Grandma. They taught me such important values about life, how to believe in yourself and follow your heart!
Do you have a favourite quote?
“Keep your heels, head & standards high.” Coco Chanel