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Girlbosses of Great Britain : Putting your best foot forward with Harry Lou

Girlbosses of Great Britain : Putting your best foot forward with Harry Lou

Harry Lou is a British footwear designer who has never given up on her vision and dreams.

July 21st, 2020

Harry Lou is a British footwear designer who has never given up on her vision and dreams. After realising she had abilities to predict future trends in her twenties, she decided to go to London college Of Fashion where she received her diploma in Fashion and Design. While still enjoying and observing her natural ability to see trends before they hit the high streets. She decided that her strongest visions came through as footwear, after having original shoe collections formulating in her sleep.

A true visionary and inspiration, Harry Lou would inspire you when you’re lacking motivation. Having carved a name for herself in the industry, she is a real force to be reckoned with. We couldn’t wait to spend some time with her to find out more…

For any footwear designers that want to start their label, what advice would you offer?

The Harry Lou brand is all about ease, luxury, and ‘glamour on the go.’ I wanted to create a reliable, accessible, luxury shoe that worked well for summer for women of all ages and made them feel instantly confident and comfortable as soon as they step outside. The idea founded itself in November 2016. While going through a divorce, I was in Portugal waiting for everything to finalise. We had a house there, and it was the most cost-effective place to stay, as freelance work had finished.
As a result, I developed an interest in visiting churches and taking photos of attractive Portuguese tiles in houses and walls all around the villages.
After a while, I began printing them and started to develop my ideas around making paper slides, and here Harry Lou was born.

As my cultural fascination grew, I soon realised I had to get things off the ground to make Harry Lou a reality. Portugal has an excellent reputation for producing shoes, and we eventually found a factory in Sao João de Madeira in Porto. We chose to work with a family run business where they have been making handcrafted footwear from as far back as three generations, making them some of the best-skilled workers in the world.

The idea originated from wanting to combine cultural prints onto a classic “forever summer” shoe.

I felt that I wanted extra comfort, so I chose a 1cm foam insole with suede to add that bit of extra luxury. The insole has a stamp print of Harry Lou written in as many non-alphabet languages, and this is iconic to the Harry Lou branding but also highlights other cultures and celebrates our differences as people. After going through my divorce, I decided I wanted my designs to be extra special, which is why I chose diamanté and pearl trims to a lot of the styles. I felt like giving myself comfort and luxury all at the same time, and this was the perfect combination which all women desire so often with shoes but don’t usually get the full package. I also love foot freedom, throwing on a pair of shoes, and feeling fabulous is what every woman wants, knowing that they’re not going to encounter blisters or have shoe trouble is extremely important. The great thing about Harry Lou’s is that you can get them on and off very quickly. All these little things ticked the boxes, and I wanted to share my shoes with like-minded women who have an eye for design and desire for comfort.

Looking back since launching the brand, is there anything you would do differently?

I think producing a smaller collection would have been better, as I got carried away with all the beautiful leathers and colours! I guess the positives taken from this is that customers have a lot more choice.

To date, what has been your proudest moment?

One of the most important moments is positive feedback from my customers about the luxury and comfort aspect. I set out to achieve a comfortable and glamorous shoe accessible for all women and make the individual feel amazing. Despite Harry Lou being born from what some might perceive as a difficult period of life, I ultimately turned this around into a positive. I found myself on a creative path of growth and personal self-development; it has been cathartic. It has transpired into something beautiful and empowering, showing women that anything is possible should you put your mind to it, and that is subconsciously what Harry Lou symbolises.

How do you juggle your life as a mum with being an entrepreneur?

Luckily my kids are teenagers now, don’t get me wrong there’s still loads to do for them but it’s not as intense as when they were small, trying to juggle my travel time to Italy and Spain back then was always a worry for me, much harder to keep momentum and focus.

Talk us through an average day in your life…

Every day I get up early to feed my dogs, make coffee, and be sure to meditate /daydream. Daydreaming, for me, is a big part of the creative process. If I don’t have mind gaps in my day, nothing would ever arrive for me creatively. I usually exercise by walking the dogs or go for a jog. My son plays tennis every day at 9 am so we leave the house around 8.30 am. I get my ideas walking around so that once I have them, I can then sit at my desk to apply it once it’s mentally downloaded. I must spend time in nature, that’s when I get my insights and intuitions. Work emails and paperwork, phone calls are usually done once I’ve had a walk or a jog. I’ve chosen a simple life uncluttered by heavy emotions and complicated friends.

What do you do when you lack motivation?

I used to dream of shoe collections in my sleep, so I feel it’s a true calling. I also think of my boys and how it’s essential to set a positive example to them – possessing drive, ambition, and self-belief.

What does self-care mean to you?

I do find it’s a constant juggle, but how I like to unwind is by either walking the dogs or being out with nature, relaxing baths, meditation, and making time for inner reflection.

How much was your company affected by COVID, and what pivots did you have to make?

I was tweaking samples and finalising the collections really when COVID got going. I did my best to ignore it and focus on what I could do. My older 19-year-old son came back from uni in America, and we just incubated as a family. I worked on photos of the shoes and just anticipated a static period that I used to extend my prep time, which was beneficial for Harry Lou.

What quote do you like to read when you lack motivation?

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
Maya Angelou

How much does social media play a role in your company?

Instagram plays a massive part in our company. We have a lot of positive feedback from loyal customers. It’s a great tool and way for us to engage with our customers and keep up to date. As my creativity is all-encompassing, it’s brilliant that I can showcase our latest photoshoots and small videos, these truly showcase the Harry Lou lifestyle and ethos.

Where can people find out more?

Our online shop www.harrylou.co.uk or IG @harryloushoes or visit flying solo store in NYC.

Laura Bartlett

Laura Bartlett

Northern girl Laura is the epitome of a true entrepreneur. Laura’s spirit for adventure and passion for people blaze through House of Coco. She founded House of Coco in 2014 and has grown it in to an internationally recognised brand whilst having a lot of fun along the way. Travel is in her DNA and she is a true visionary and a global citizen.