The adventures and musings of an aspiring shoe designer

Meeting Taryn Rose

We took our second trip to the factory, Mary and I had made the arrangement that she would accompany me the first day and I would learn and work in the factory by myself the second day.  We had set up meetings with the factory owners, leather sales people and components salesmen. She had personal plans for the second day and I had no problem agreeing to pay for her ticket and for the first day even if she was piggybacking the trip to accommodate other needs, what do I care. 

As soon as we were on the plane she informed me that Taryn wanted to go with us to the factory.  It seems that Taryn was kicking around the idea of a shoe made in America as well.  This brought up mixed feelings with me but in the end I came to the conclusion that Taryn can do whatever she wants and I can’t stop her, although I worried about how much info Mary was giving her about my line.  I decided that if I was going to get to meet her I would take the opportunity to ask her all the questions an aspiring shoe designer wants to ask an accomplished shoe designer. 

After we picked up the rental car Mary said she needed to stop by Kinko’s to print some things that she had forgotten, this ended up taking a long time. Then she wanted to stop and buy an expensive bottle of Champagne for Taryn, then we needed to go to Taryn’s and pick her up.  I was getting irritated with her, I mean I was paying for her time and this was not for my business, I kept quiet for the time being. 

We picked up Taryn and not only was her home beautiful, so was she, she was very gracious, dressed head to toe in Chanel.  I felt self-conscious and somewhat intimidated by her.  Mary had once again insisted on choosing my clothes for the day and although I felt extremely overdressed at the airport I was grateful I hadn’t worn what I originally intended to. 

At first I said nothing but, then I thought here’s my chance; so I asked her if she would mind giving me advice while we drove to the factory.  She was open to my questions and gave very good advice, the one thing that still stands out is.  I asked her what is the best advice she could give a start-up like me.  “Know your cashflow.”  My impression of her throughout that day was that she was very smart and very much a business woman.  She looked like a fashionista but, when she opened her mouth she made it clear why she was so successful.  In fact as it turns out I was so glad she came to the factory, I should have paid her for her time rather than Mary that day seeing as though Mary really didn’t do a whole lot on that trip, except take advantage. 

Taryn was extremely helpful and as we went through my specifications regarding my inputs she gave me valuable information as to how to look at leather, what qualities and properties you are looking for, what was important to spend money on, what wasn’t.  At the end of the day she seemed to approve most of my choices, which gave me some confidence. The only thing she didn’t agree with was that I was determined to use a thicker cushioning material and she insisted that it wasn’t necessary and I shouldn’t waste the money.  I didn’t listen to her but down the road found this to be correct.  In the end I used slightly more cushioning than she suggested but, definitely much less (thickness) than what I had originally specified. 

Sidenote, the amount of cushioning you put into a shoe changes the overall appearance and thickness of the shoe, such as toe character so you have to be very careful otherwise the shoe starts looking heavy.  This can work in thick platforms but not so much in a sexy pump or sandal.  You have to keep in mind all the components that are going in will add to the thickness of the shoe.  Another thing I discovered to be true in my fit testing down the road was that (with the exception of a properly shaped last) pitch is the most important element pertaining to comfort, it doesn’t matter how much cushioning you have if the pitch is off you can have inches of cushion and still be in pain. 

The day ends with Mary telling me she has to leave to take Taryn home and she will be back to pick me up in an hour or so.  I was fuming, but seeing that I was surrounded by everyone I couldn’t say a word.  Later when she picked me up to take me back to my hotel I let her know that I wasn’t going to pay her for the entire day because as I saw it she didn’t give me what I had paid for.  I said this in nicer terms but the point was made,  I agreed to pay her for the hours she did work that day.

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