An Interview with Shoe Designer Anna Kichenside

I met Anna Kichenside after she graduated, while she was working at . It seemed inevitable at the time the she would set up her own label.

How did you become interested in fashion?
My family background was in graphic design and advertising, and even though I loved what both my parents did for a living (my father being a graphic designer and art director, and my mother a copywriter), I knew that I wanted something different within the creative industry. Graphic design was never enough. Whilst studying graphic design at College, I always doodled shoes on scraps of paper and one day my brother informed me of a University course for design. 3 years later I graduated with a First Class Hons and never looked back!

What was your first job experiences when you finished London College of Fashion?

My first job out of University was designing shoes for the highstreet which gave me good grounding and understanding. But the real job which showed me the ups and downs of running your own business and the many challenges you face along the way, was when I worked at Gil Carvalho – a small independent luxury designer, based here in the UK. This job role included everything from design, to day-to-day running of the business – be it booking trade fairs, stylists, photoshoots; producing the Company’s accounts; working with the suppliers and factories in Europe; building customer relations and meeting so many people and so on.

In 2009 I was short-listed for the Fashion Fringe Accessories award, and as a result got the opportunity to work at Jimmy Choo. From here, I then went to work for Gina, and was a designer and pattern developer. Here is where I really learned the art of shoe making and running of a factory.

How did you transition to being a designer? What was this process for you?

Both these jobs at Gil Carvalho and Gina really gave me the background knowledge and understanding that I needed. Of course there is always more to learn, but I felt that the time was right – it was now or never. I left Gina after a year and a half, and decided to go it alone!

How did the ‘Inspiring Women’s Enterprise Program’ help your business?
In early 2010 I joined The Inspiring Women’s Enterprise Program, which gave me the kick-start I needed to pull together a business plan and secure finance.

How would you describe your shoes?
I would describe my shoes as feminine, with an edge, with structure and form being the most important elements to me. All shoes are made to order in the UK, as keeping the British Footwear Industry still alive is very important to me.

What’s next for you?
To date, it has been a roller-coaster of a ride, and certainly having limited funds really pushes you to think creatively even about the dullest of tasks. Every month is different with new goals and targets to meet. This year I hope to push the brand through PR and secure stockists, as so far the shoes are only made for private clients.

I have been in the footwear industry for over 6 years now, and have designed shoes for the highstreet as well as for luxury brands. At the start of 2010, I decided to branch out on my own and start my own label. This can only be done with enough experience behind you, belief in yourself, enough financial security and wonderful support from family and friends!

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