Momtrepreneur Jennifer Chamandi on launching a footwear brand - Hashtag Legend

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Momtrepreneur Jennifer Chamandi on launching a footwear brand

Nov 23, 2017

Jennifer Chamandi Holding her Signature Needle Stiletto

Jennifer Chamandi is a relatively new name in footwear, but she’s already made strides worldwide. In a mere year, she’s landed her brand at renowned retailers such as Browns, Harrods, Net-a-Porter, and now her namesake is available at On Pedder.

Her success story is one for the history books. Originally in finance, Chamandi spent seven years stomping the trading floors. But she knew her passion was in footwear, and she made it happen despite everything. And by everything, we mean learning Italian, leaving her cushy finance job, enrolling into fashion school AND having twins. We spoke with the London-based Lebanese designer and entrepreneur on everything from her work-life balance to her favourite footwear designers.

Jennifer Chamandi Stands in Front of Her Collection at on Pedder

On balancing work and twins…

“I had my twins 10 days after my brand launched. Every single day I have this dilemma when I have to leave [my kids], I just want to spend all day with them! But when I work I’m a better mom, it allows me to have better quality time with them. So I feel like I spend enough time with them, it is overwhelming, but I am blessed.”

On why she learned Italian…

“When I decided to embark on this journey I wanted to produce in Italy. It gives credibility to your brand,  but I had to learn Italian to gain credibility with manufacturers. In these small villages, they only speak Italian. I was also researching, because I didn’t come from a fashion background I had to Google manufacturers! I ended up choosing Milan because it’s closest for me to travel to from London, and eventually I found a small manufacturer to work with. I was so persistent, but the whole process [of finding a manufacturer] still took four or five months. Eventually the manufacturer decided to give me half an hour, and I traveled to Milan to meet him. We ended up spending the whole day together, he loved my concept and felt it was unique and distinctive."

On her unique shoe design… 

“The concept comes from the French word for needle stiletto, talon aiguille. The strap in the heel is the thread that goes through the needle and it’s removable. There is the distinctive needle hole that’s gold-plated. The strap doesn’t cut off the ankle and it’s a functional way of holding the foot.”

“The shoe is very technical – normally you have a metallic nail inside the heel to hold the heel and stiletto, and then to hold it to the shoe. We had to think of a completely different mechanism – that alone took a few months to design.”

On her favorite shoe designers…

“I think Louboutin is a genius, he created this red sole that is so recognisable. Manolo is the king, I had his illustration book for a long time. He’s managed to remain so relevant for over 50 years. I love femininity, and Manolo and Gianvito are two real inspirations. Another young designer who I adore is Giannico – he is still kind of new but he does fun designs.”

On striking out on your own…

“Do not rush! If I had started this without being in finance I don’t think I would’ve been successful. I learned so much by making mistakes. Having your own brand with your name on it - you can’t afford to make mistakes. If you are passionate and believe that you can do it, then go through it and do it methodically. Really embrace all aspects, get technical. To design well, you really need to learn how a piece of clothing or bag is constructed."

"Try to be different! It’s easy to say that but to have your own DNA is so important for the longevity of your brand. Find something that makes you unique and don’t rush."

"Hard work! Hard work makes it more rewarding, and it makes you more respected and credible.”

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Helena Yeung