This month, as part of our Women That Inspire Us series, we caught up with Katie Cary, founder of the dynamic shoe brand Rogue Matilda. Katie first dipped a toe into the shoe business after years of searching in vain for the perfect pair of practical yet well-designed flats. Frustrated by the lack of flats that weren’t ballet pumps or trainers, she set out to create her own line of shoes inspired by the sleek lines and supportive build of men’s shoes. Characterised by vivid colours, animal hair accents and high quality leathers, her shoes walk the line between playful and practical. We loved hearing about her brand and what inspires her designs.
What inspired you to become a Shoe Designer?
The honest answer is I couldn’t find any shoes I liked! I’m not a ballet pump or ankle boot girl and I felt fed up with wearing trainers to work the whole time. I used to love the simplicity of lots of men’s shoes and how well made they felt, but I just wished they came in more feminine colours and more interesting materials.
Your brand has gone from strength to strength with so much success since launching, what has been your most exciting achievement?
When we were picked up by Harvey Nichols our first season that was pretty exciting! And I obviously get a massive kick out of seeing the likes of Julia Roberts, Gigi Hadid and Fearne Cotton rocking a Rogue. But to be honest nothing is more exciting to me than seeing random women on the street in London wearing my designs. That will never get old. I also love it when customers get in touch to send me photos of their growing Rogue collections or tell me how their shoes have got their own fan club at work or home. I feel lucky to have (for the most part) such lovely customers.
Where do you get your inspiration?
As I’m trained more in Fine Art than Design, artists such as David Hockney will always be a massive influence. I love how he’s carried on exploring different mediums and experimented throughout his career. Interestingly, more recently, a huge amount of my colour inspiration comes from interiors. There’s a really movement towards maximalism in interiors trends at the moment which is very reflective of my brand too. My own house is testament to this as every room is a different colour! I find a lot of fashion brands at the moment are samey and too paired down for me, so I tend to take inspiration from elsewhere. Our customers want to wear something that makes them feel great, and that’s a reflection of their unique personality, rather than be just another Instagram clone.
Describe your style.
Colourful! I’ve always been an accessories girl and I find the easiest way to dress is to wear something simple that you can jazz up with statement jackets, earrings, bags or shoes. I’m most comfortable in a coloured suit, black skinnies and a blazer or a boiler suit.
What do you love most about being your own boss?
The flexibility. I can work from anywhere and I can work the hours and days I choose, which is not only liberating but also makes me more productive.
What advice would you give to others who are looking to launch their own brand?
Launch with someone else! It can be incredibly lonely and stressful at times having all the weight of the company on just one pair of shoulders. My Mum and Dad have essentially become part of the team the last few years and I love bouncing ideas off them.
What has been your biggest challenge and how have you overcome this?
Finding a factory in Portugal initially was a huge challenge. I went through a lot of factories that I had no confidence in whatsoever to deliver the product and it’s only in the last 18 months that I’ve found a great factory that I can depend on. Now I am trying to grow the brand with this factory. I have an agent in Portugal called Sergio who has been instrumental in this.
Closer to home, one of my biggest challenges, still, is customer service. People can be very impatient and direct on e mail these days as life is so fast-paced and it’s hard not to take some of the comments to heart when it’s your baby. I think few people realise that it’s me doing everything with the brand and that we’re not some bigger company with a customer service department. I was a buyer at Fenwick before I launched the brand and I had to get involved with a lot of ugly customer disputes on the shop floor if managers were on lunch or away. It taught me a lot and gave me a thick skin, however it’s still tough.
Describe your perfect weekend.
I think this would have to be a sunny weekend in England at the seaside with a group of friends. Nothing beats England in the sun! I love ice creams, pubs, fish and chips, and I also love the family-like feeling you get from a weekend away with a group of friends with everyone chipping in and helping out with drinks and cooking.
What is your favourite piece of jewellery from our collections?