Entrepreneur

From Bankruptcy to $87 Million in Funding: How Tamara Mellon Saved Her Namesake Brand

The Jimmy Choo co-founder has faced plenty of hurdles as an entrepreneur. But now, she's clinging tight to her vision -- and finding new levels of success.
Source: Courtesy of Tamara Mellon
Courtesy of Tamara Mellon

Tamara Mellon just wanted to move on.

For most of her career, she’d been defined by one brand: Jimmy Choo. She cofounded the luxury footwear company in 1996, and it quickly became the final word on playful, sexy shoes for women. She grew the business for 15 years until her relationship with the company soured, leaving Mellon feeling overlooked, overworked, and undercompensated. She left in 2011.

Two years later, in 2013, she was ready to launch a new shoe brand. Everything about it would be different. (For starters, she’d name it after herself.) While the rest of the industry releases one large collection each season, she’d release products monthly. Women, she realized, no longer wanted to see autumn clothing on a runway in February, wait until August to buy it, then wait until it gets cold to wear it. “I was thinking about the next generation of luxury,” she says. 

At first, the industry was intrigued. Investors put in $24 million. Retailers set up meetings. But she hit a wall. She kept hearing the same feedback: She was trying to do things too differently. The timing wouldn’t work, people told her. Monthly shipments would be impossible to manage. “I had three investors who wanted me to just go back to fashion’s old calendar and build Tamara Mellon the same way I’d built Jimmy Choo,” she says. 

Related: Good American Founder Emma Grede Gets Honest With Her Customers

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