Since its launch just two years ago this fledgling shoe company has been making waves in a big way. With a host of celebs, literally everyone from Sienna Miller to Bella Hadid rocking their footwear, this London based label’s cool girl aesthetic and amazing mix of unconventional textures manage to bridge the gap between a minimalist and maximalist sensibility in all the right ways. Creating a vibe that is both luxe and understated to become the must have shoe for any women’s wardrobe.
But what about the women behind the brand herself? Well, Jane Frances is just as chic as the boots on her feet. So when we got the opportunity to pick her brain about everything from the latest and greatest shoe trends coming up for fall to how to live a more stylish life we leaped at the chance.
When did you first decide to start Dear Frances and how did you come up with the name?
I started working on Dear Frances shortly after moving to Paris in 2013 and we launched our first collection two years later for Fall 2015. I was determined to bring a new kind of luxury that slowed the fashion cycle and offered a range of elevated essentials designed for everyday wear. I had been interning with a family-run factory in Italy and they offered to produce my first collection for Fall 2015. Three years on and several collections later, we are still working with the same factory and loving every minute! The Dear Frances name symbolizes the beginning of our story – my middle name is Frances so in a sense it’s like penning a letter to myself and telling my story through design.
Did you always want to design footwear?
Yes! I studied fashion in London, though always with the intention to specialize in footwear design so when the opportunity came to study footwear in Milan, I jumped at the chance and completed my studies there. I have always been interested in shoes; I love their structure and the technical side of developing shoes that fit perfectly so it was a natural transition for me.
What are some of the challenges you faced early in your career?
There are so many challenges when first starting out in this industry. At first it can seem like an insurmountable number of hurdles to face, from juggling creativity with running a business and having to multitask for months on end. It’s important to have patience and perseverance and true passion for what you do – with this combination, no challenge is ever too big.
What tips would you share with someone wanting to start his or her own business?
Everyone has their own unique voice; it’s just a matter of listening to it and trusting it enough to follow your instincts. This industry is tough, but it’s worth the hard work, so take the time to learn as much as you can before forging your own path.
Can you share with us some tips on how to manage work-life balance?
I think everyone has different ways of switching off from a busy work life. I personally enjoy winding down from the day with a run or yoga session. Exercise is an important part of my life so I try to fit some in each day, even if I can only manage 20 minutes on some days. My husband and I work together so it’s important we try not to discuss work when we get home – not always the easiest thing to do but we do try and it helps us manage a certain balance.
If you could describe the aesthetic of the brand in three words what would they be?
Confident, classic and elegant.
Take us through your design process. Where do you find your inspiration, source materials, etc.
I am inspired by the contrasts of strength and elegance and of fresh, clean lines with warm textural features. I take an uncomplicated approach, with the focus being on the quality of materials, the tonal colors and contrasting textures. Much of my inspiration comes from the world of fine art, architecture and furniture design. In particular, mid-century furniture design has become an important reference for my work. I’m also a fan of what’s happening now – there’s a fairly minimalist approach, with a focus on high quality materials and textures. I am constantly pulled between these two styles, creating a beautiful harmony of old and new, a balance of artisanal and modern, which is central to our aesthetic.
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?
Social media is a powerful tool, which has opened a unique path for designers to find and connect with their own audience. We have a strong audience on our social channels and we enjoy engaging directly with our customers – asking what works for them, what they’d like to see more of and when. We have found that our customers appreciate the open dialogue, they are interested in our story and they want to be part of our journey as we grow and develop as a brand.
What do you think someone should look for when investing in a quality pair of shoes?
Premium, supple leathers and materials that have been ethically produced are vital for high-quality shoes. Equally important is the level of craftsmanship, so look for small details like hand-stitching and cleanly finished edges, as well as the perfect fit that supports your arch and feels soft on your feet.
What trends do you see coming up in footwear?
Flats and block heels continue to be important choices but what I really love at the moment is how women are experimenting with evening slides – pairs embellished with luxe materials such as satins, modern pearls and textured details. Slipping a pair of chic slides on with a shift dress or modern tailoring for a formal event is my ultimate style.
What are some of your favorite pieces from your current collection?
I love the Knot Slides from our Pre Fall collection. They were so much fun to design and are produced using only sustainable materials such as hand-woven silks and organic cotton. I also love Nina – our new range of block heel pumps, which we designed in a selection of gorgeous Fall tones such as bordeaux, deep rust and patent blush.
If you had one tip on how to live a more stylish life what would it be?
Try everything that excites you. It doesn’t matter if it might seem different or unusual to others, it’s these differences that make life more interesting so embrace them and enjoy your own personal style.