There are few shoe brands that I consistently find myself waiting for from season to season, with baited breath to see what their newest designs will be. Whimsical and sophisticated Chelsea Paris is one of them. With its mix of unconventional silhouettes and even more innovative fabrications, this is style star and celeb fashion favorite is sure to not be a secret much longer.
I was first introduced to this quirky English brand a couple years ago at a showroom appointment and it was love at first sight. When the opportunity finally arose to chat with the brains behind the brand, Nigerian-born, UK raised Theresa Ebagua, I instantly leapt at the chance to pick her brain on all things from changing careers, where she get’s her inspiration, and finding the best new shoes for fall.
When did you first decide to start Chelsea Paris and how did you come up with the name?
We launched our first collection in 2012. My daughters, Chelsea and Paris, are the inspiration behind the name Chelsea Paris. I wanted to capture my daughters’ energy and individuality into the brand. The name is also a reminder that they can follow their dreams, as I have; and learn to be empowered women, with grace and integrity.
We are launching a new line CP by Theresa Ebagua for Spring/Summer 2018 and it will carry the DNA of Chelsea Paris at a more aspirational price point.
Did you always want to design footwear?
I have been fascinated and captivated by shoes for as long as I can remember. As a teenager, I fell in love with the details and shapes of shoes that I found scouring flea markets and vintage stores. However, I did not think I would have the courage to make a career out of my love, so I worked successfully in Technology for a decade. Still, I could never find the shoes I was looking for, so I made the decision to follow my dreams and risk it all … and here I am and I couldn’t be happier!
What are some of the challenges you faced early in your career?
People taking advantage of you and sourcing good factories to execute your vision
What tips would you share with someone wanting to start his or her own business?
Don’t quit your day job, listen to people and be open to criticism. Take notes and don’t assume you know better. Find a Footwear brand to cut your teeth at.
Can you share with us some tips on how to manage work-life balance?
Still learning! But surround yourself with good people.
If you could describe the aesthetic of the brand in three words what would they be?
Quirky, Elegant, timeless
Take us through your design process. Where do you find your inspiration, source materials, etc.
My African heritage informs my brand as a whole, especially when it comes to colors and textures. Design innovation is inspired by African culture fused with Modern Deco with an awareness of the world around me.
At the start of my design process, I place no restrictions on myself and create freely. I am very spontaneous and I tend to push boundaries but still strike a balance between my inspirations and an achievable product. My passion is not only to create beautiful shoes, but also to create exquisite shoes that are as beautiful to wear, as they are to desire.
Now in the age of social media, how do you feel like it impacts a business and what ways do you feel your brand embraces it?
It has a huge impact as it is changing the fashion industry; today there is so much competition that you cannot have a brand without a strong social media presence. Chelsea Paris does well on Facebook and Instagram, while CP will explore new platforms such as Snapchat.
From the beginning we embraced social media, without it we would not have achieved all that we have. When celebrities are seen in our shoes their pictures are instantly everywhere and it noticeably drives up online sales.
What do you think someone should look for when investing in a quality pair of shoes?
Fit and emotional attachment. Shoes are an extension of your personality and an expression of your identity.
What trends do you see coming up in footwear?
What are some of your favorite pieces from your current collection?
I don’t play favorites however when I find myself in a rush, the Zola from our CP holiday collection has a way of finding its way onto my feet. It combines versatility, comfort and trend. The Yalda with mixed snake prints and mink buckle is my statement piece as it expresses my individuality and can be worn dressed up or down. I like the emotions my shoes invoke in me and I know there will always be a compliment as soon as I step out.
If you had one tip on how to live a more stylish life what would it be?
Don’t take fashion too seriously; it is all about confidence and dressing to reflect your personality… but throwing on a pair of stilettos can never hurt!