For the next instalment of our When I Grow Up series, we grilled Cleo from Cleo B about her individual style and how her passion for shoes helped her to create her own brand...
You studied at Cordwainers college, have you always want to be a shoe designer?
I always wanted to design fashion accessories and when I learnt I could study shoe design I thought it was the ultimate challenge! Shoes are the most powerful item in a woman’s wardrobe.
What was it like working with Nicholas Kirkwood?
I worked for Nicholas when he was in his early stages of development. It was a very exciting and inspiring place to be and I learnt a lot about shoe design as a commercial business. It was extremely valuable experience.
Do you have any favourite designers?
I admire a massive range of designers and brands for different reasons but a few favourites include Henry Holland, Lazy Oaf, Kate Spade and Tory Burch. (All very colourful!)
Where do you get your inspiration from?
So many places! Each collection takes inspiration from a different place and tells a different story. For example the Pixel collection (AW13) was inspired by the retro videogame, Tetris, whereas my SS14 collection pays homage to the ‘60s animation starring the Beatles, Yellow Submarine.
Can you describe your average day?
I get up, feed my dog Honey B, eat breakfast and aim to be in work as early as possible. I work on a variety of things each day, but try to focus on gathering inspirations, designing and dealing with my manufacturers as a priority. Sometimes I break during the day with a gym visit. We work in a building full of interesting, creative people, so there is always a great vibe and lots of people to bounce I ideas off.
Do you have a favourite piece?
I am in love with my multi-coloured Ironhide boots (part of my AW13 Pixel collection). They are all my favourite things in one shoe… I have barely taken them off since I got them!
Tell us something no one else knows about you?
I hate red, I never want to design a red shoe, no one has noticed that there is no red shoe yet!
Any advice for aspiring shoe designers?
Make sure you have good work experience under your belt. Get as much advice as possible. If you are planning on starting your own shoe brand, it will be 10 times harder than you think it’s going to be, so make sure you have the right connections and business plan.
As a designer, what makes a good pair of shoes?
Comfort and fit is fundamental but in terms of design, unique details that make your shoes stand out, oh and of course, colour!
Who would you like to be seen wearing your shoes?
I am most inspired by strong, independent women wearing my shoes. Influential role model types, whether famous or not.
What can we expect to see from Cleo B in the future?
I have recently launched a range of leather travel card holders and I am currently working on designing more leather accessories to accompany the main footwear collections. I am also expanding my shoe clip collection. The aim is to develop CLEO B as a fully-fledged lifestyle brand!