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Bridal footwear designer Freya Rose talks about starting her eponymous label, offering personalised products in a niche market and the brand’s signature mother-of-pearl heels

Tell me a bit about how the label was started.
My mother was a massive influence on my decision to pursue this creative career. As a jewellery designer, her creative instinct was passed down to me and I knew that accessory design was something I would develop a passion for. I grew up appreciating intricate detail and craftsmanship, as she made every piece of jewellery by hand in her work shop. I then went on to study Footwear Design at the London College of Fashion, graduating in 2003 with a First Class Honours degree. I then dove straight into the industry, working for many established shoe designers such as Gina, and designing for many popular high street stores. Nine years ago, I went solo and started Freya Rose and have never looked back.

What was the aim of the label when it was first established?
Every bride wants to feel comfortable on her big day, without having to compromise on style. I wanted to find an even balance between comfort and style. I first aimed to build on my love of jewellery, inherited from my mother, and offer distinctive, opulent designs. Lustrous fresh water pearls, Swarovski crystal and shimmering mother of pearl heels are all now signature features to the Freya Rose aesthetic. I wanted to produce a range of shoes without leather linings to not only provide a comfortable fit, but also so that I could customise my designs with a bespoke hand-embroidery service, creating one-off designs for the most discerning women seeking investment pieces with longevity.

How were the initial products developed?
I spent a great deal of time travelling the world in search of the finest levels of craftsmanship and ethical working environments. It was very important to me that I sourced only the most extravagant, original and delicate materials.

What challenges were overcome when the company was starting out?
The pressures surrounding a designer trying to make their mark in the industry can be very daunting. For example, developing relationships with your new suppliers. Finding the right craftsmen and crafts people to produce the quality that we aspired to achieve, and understanding that your design handwriting takes a long time.
The aspect that was perhaps the most challenging and did take the longest, was finding a factory that would be able to produce our designs, as well as developing a relationship so they could understand our signature and product. It's not just about handing over a design on paper, it's about ensuring that they fully grasp the features of the design and how to execute it, in order to produce the highest standard of shoe. A personal challenge for me was learning business skills. I'm a trained designer and therefore not a natural! I didn't understand what running a business entailed and it took me years to get to grips with this. I had help form establishments such as the British Library, which offered a great training programme.

What sets you apart from your competitors?
At Freya Rose we aim to give bridal clients a bespoke experience, therefore we offer private appointments at our head office and showroom where all our products are on hand to try. We get to know brides-to-be on a personal level so we can strive to fulfil all her expectations. For our brides, the design possibilities are endless. We offer three additional specialist services, customising, couture and bespoke. Once you have selected a basic shoe shape and heel size you can start with the fun part, the customisation. It's this that will make your bridal shoes truly original - we can dye shoes your dream colour, incorporate some of lace from your dress, add pearls or Swarovski. What makes it even more special is that customisation trims can often be fitted or detachable, which gives you the option to dye the shoes after your big day and use both clips and shoes again.

How has the product offering changed over the years and how would you describe your current collection?
When we first started we very much focused on hand embellishment and very feminine bridal styles, however, as we've evolved we've headed more towards a statement ready-to-wear collection by adding chunky heel and pointed toe alternatives. A collection that would be more wearable and appealing to a contemporary bride. Furthermore, we're now branching into the evening and occasionwear market. Ultimately, I think we've evolved from a very feminine, pretty label into a brand with a more minimalistic, sleek aesthetic. We've kept our signature mother-of-pearl heel, however throughout the years we have experimented with this feature by adding brass.

How often do you launch new lines?
We launch two new lines once a year. One is ready-to-wear footwear and the other is our bridal shoe collection.

What are the current best-selling designs?
Tell me about your recent campaigns. The bestsellers right now are probably the Micola and Pecina styles. They're two of our most popular recent designs - with both press and clients. Our latest collection's campaign was shot in Spain. The statement block heels, pointed toes and lace-up straps are very current and on-trend details, although bridal footwear is regarded as predominantly a very niche market.

When was the website launched and how does it support the business?
Our website was launched in 2008. It has evolved dramatically since then and now generates more than 60 percent of our revenue.

What have been the key milestones in the business?
The biggest landmark would have to be opening our London showroom and office in 2008. Winning awards for Best New Designer 2008 and Best Shoe Designer 2011. Being flown out to meet with royalty and working with the likes of Browns Bride, Alice Temperley and Philippa Lepley have also been great privileges.

How do you view the current market and what trends, both in product and in business, do you see emerging over the coming months?
In today's market it's so easy to gain access to a vast range of interesting and luxurious designs, but it's still a difficult task to find your dream wedding shoes without research and planning. Classic designs are still very much on-trend; however, embellishment and excessive sparkle is very popular right now. Another movement that has developed significantly is customisation. Brides love to add something different and truly personal to their wedding shoes so they know they have something that is one of a kind. Our bespoke service at Freya Rose allows brides to design their shoes with myself. There are many ways we can adapt and embellish shoes in our studio to a bride's specification and this is something that is becoming increasingly popular.

What are your future plans for the business?
My aim is to increase the scale of our ready-to-wear collection and branch out to new stockists and luxury retailers worldwide. We launched our new ready-to-wear collection at Scoop in February and everyone at Freya Rose is very excited about these developments. You can get a sneak peek of the range now on all of our social media platforms.

Freya Rose
+44 (0)20 7354 8424