Carolina Constas has always had an eye on the dreamy destination, the dream party, the fanciful world she can create and let you into with her designs. Constas has never been about pragmatic dressing—which is the whole appeal. So when the New York–based line was ready to embark on a new category, shoes, you could guess that they wouldn’t be pegged to “stomping around the city all day.” Rather, these are black car-to-chic bar heels, darling, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Inspired by the 1980s, the low-heeled pumps leverage Constas’s signature gingham and polka-dot patterns, as well as bows and a special appearance by a rainbow ombré kitten heel. “I just knew what I wanted to wear when I am getting dressed up—something effortlessly glamorous but easy to walk … and dance in!” Constas tells BAZAAR.com. Get the full shoe story below, plus insights on building a business from the ground up—and shop the new collection, starting at $220, online at shopbop.com.
What was your inspiration for the shoe collection?
I wanted to create a shoe collection that projects the brand’s ethos: femininity, sophistication, and a playful spirit—one that focuses on pieces that evoke an emotional response in the wearer. These shoes are inspired by destinations near and far, from the sidewalks of Manhattan to the cobbled streets of Athens, and can take you from the beach to the taverna with an easy glamour.
Why shoes now?
We originally launched as a clothing brand, focusing on dresses and separates, but as we have grown, so has our community. … I wanted to be able to offer them a head-to-toe experience. I felt there was absolutely a gap in the market for something covetable, which complements our ready-to-wear and swim collections. From a personal perspective, I just knew what I wanted to wear when I am getting dressed up–something effortlessly glamorous but easy to walk … and dance in!
You’ve been building your brand for years. How would you say the aesthetic has evolved?
I’d say that our identity has remained strong and consistent, we have simply expanded on it. Caroline Constas is a feminine, sophisticated, and sensual brand that embodies a certain joie de vivre and appreciation of travel. This is really what I consider to be our niche and identity, and it is important for a brand to have a strong sense of self. Being seven years old now, I definitely feel as though we, as a brand, are more certain of who we are than ever before, and that is definitely translating to the customer. They know what they are coming to us for, and there is a lot of passion behind that.
What story do you hope to tell with your designs?
I hope to tell a story of empowerment and joy. I hope to send a message that we are capable of anything and can have a great deal of fun along the way of working toward our dreams.
What have been the biggest challenges in building a fashion brand?
I started my brand on my own at 27 years old with only $10,000. I had sales and design experience, but really had to learn the rest of it along the way. I was a one-woman show for the first two years I was in business due to very little seed money and needing to grow organically. There was a lot to learn! Production, margins, marketing, and really looking at this from a business perspective are things that I was determined to become an expert in. At the end of the day, this isn’t just a clothing brand, this is a business. I am still constantly learning, which is what is so exhilarating about a fashion brand, it is constantly evolving.
What have been the biggest wins?
I’d have to say surviving COVID and emerging stronger than before we went in. When I look back over the past year and a half, I realize how fortunate I have been to have my team, and how important it is as a leader to continuously encourage, motivate, and show appreciation to those you work with every single day. No one could have do this alone. We did this together, and I am forever grateful for how tenaciously we all navigated this. Our web business is up more than 300 percent to 2019, and our retail performance with our retail partners is among the strongest it has ever been in the history of the brand. I see how much we learned, how hard we worked, what we have overcome, how we are emerging stronger than ever and are now in tremendous growth mode. It is unbelievably rewarding.
Who are the women who continue to inspire you?
My mother’s tenacity and integrity is among one of the things I have admired most about her throughout the years. She always does the right thing, and she never gives up. These are traits and values that I run my business on. I have learned that success comes from never giving up, even after mistakes, even after failures. If you never give up, you will succeed, and knowing that is incredibly motivating and inspiring.
Where do you hope to see the brand in five years?
Oh, my! There are so many things in the works. I hope to expand our categories significantly—we already have three new categories in the works currently. We also launched Journey, Powered by Caroline Constas this past June, a new facet of the business, diversifying into travel. I could not be more excited about it. It has been in the works for over a year now, and I have big plans for growth there. Stay tuned for 2022.
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