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For her second act, Jimmy Choo thinks co-founder Tamara Mellon outside the shoe box

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In a modern office in a modest Los Angeles building on Beverly Boulevard, Tamara Mellon – this September working day – wore a pure black blouse in combination with jeans, a gold statement necklace, retro-style aviator glasses and black patent leather sandals of her own design – seemed relaxed, optimistic and determined about her final chapter.

The gentle, UK-born designer said she & # 39; out of love & # 39; had moved to Los Angeles, but now it is her Beverly Grove-based, namesake footwear label that holds her well-off feet firmly in Southern California. "This company was a total step in being brave enough to think: & # 39; I'm going to start again & # 39 ;," said the 52-year-old businesswoman who launched the Tamara Mellon brand in 2013 long after she helped with making luxury shoes label Jimmy Choo a household name.

Her self-proclaimed brand may not have the same status as Jimmy Choo, but things seem to be moving in a positive direction for her young brand, especially in the years following a chapter 11 bankruptcy application in 2015 and subsequent restructuring. During this second time, Mellon opts for a different approach and promotes more than a line of footwear. She sells a more daring, play-by-your-own rules lifestyle – a lifestyle that reflects her own life. As a result, she sees Los Angeles in a new way – and is now entering a period of fashion successes.

Tamara Mellon at work in Los Angeles.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

In September, she and cannabis lifestyle brand Lord Jones released their High CBD Formula Stiletto Cream, which contains 200 milligrams of CBD (or cannabidiol, a substance found in cannabis plants). "I take CBD every day," she said, adding that the foot cream was inspired by the number of hours that actresses tend to spend on red carpet.

"It's a game changer for your feet," Mellon said about the $ 70 cream that is available on tamaramellon.com and lordjones.com.

This year her brand collaborated with fashion labels A.L.C. and Frame on exclusive collaboration in the field of shoes, and it launched a mobile shoe cabinet that travels throughout the country. (The mobile cabinet is scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles in early December.)

The Tamara Mellon label also opened a physical store in the Palisades Village shopping center in Pacific Palisades.

la-ig-tamara-Mellon-004.JPG

Tamara Mellon collaborated with cannabis lifestyle brand Lord Jones on a new CBD infused foot cream.

(Nick Ferrari)

Future plans for the label require the opening of five Tamara Mellon stores by 2021, with locations in New York and San Francisco as options. Although the brand is currently focused on shoes, two handbags have been released and there is debate about eventually branching into other categories.

Mellon said that achieving this sweet spot requires a good team – in an environment where people are inspired to work. "I wanted to create a company I was proud of, and I wanted to support women," said Mellon, sitting on a white, modern couch in a private room with an orchid, plush carpet, and marble coffee table. The pristine space felt less like the meeting room it was advertised and more like a salon in a compound house in Bel-Air.

Make no mistake – it wasn't the generous office on the corner of Mellon. The designer sits next to her team of 57 employees at her desk in an attempt to foster a sense of community. It is an example of how she keeps shaking things up.

Another major business shift is the direct-to-consumer model of its label, which eliminates the middle person (also known as large department stores). It also embraces a more modern corporate culture and feminist initiatives.

The Tamara Mellon shoe label, calling home Los Angeles, has a mobile cabinet that travels around the country. It is planned to be in L.A. in early December.

The Tamara Mellon shoe label, calling home Los Angeles, has a mobile cabinet that travels around the country. It is planned to be in L.A. in early December.

(Tamara Mellon)

The latter is underlined and its brand sponsors the upcoming L.A. event Know Your Mellons, which offers free mammograms on October 21 and 22. Mellon takes the bill for the impressions for anyone who pre-register on the website of her brand.

"I was ready to create something else for women," said Mellon, whose shoe collection of the same name ranges from $ 350 for metallic leather sandals to $ 1,695 for black suede waist-high boots.

Also important for Mellon in creating her brand was tackling the pay gap between men and women. She said she left Jimmy Choo in 2011 because of a salary conflict. "I couldn't be paid directly to the men who actually worked for me," Mellon said, explaining that private equity deals led to a fully masculine board of directors. "Although I was the founder of the company and the creative director of the company, there was still a bias that the work of a man is more valuable. That was the decisive moment for me. … I was angry enough that I was leaving wanted to go and start a new company with completely different values ​​- values ​​that reflected me. "

I was angry enough that I wanted to leave and start a new company with completely different values ​​- values ​​that reflected me.

Tamara Mellon

Her own shoe label is run by women, with Jill Layfield as co-founder and chief executive officer of the brand. Employees get unlimited free time and everyone has equality in the company. In June, Tamara Mellon raised $ 50 million in funding, bringing the total capital of the brand to $ 87 million.

Mellon said her initial approach – she now sees, now wear concept – was too far ahead of her contemporaries and led to the first problems of her brand. "I saw writing on the wall for the fashion industry," she said, "and what was going on in the industry is that many people refused to see it coming."

Around 2016, fashion labels such as Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger, Burberry and Rebecca Minkoff began unveiling immediately available collections that were available in the season (or now see, wear now). Other brands, including Ralph Lauren and Kate Spade New York, also went that way. (Tom Ford and some other early adopters have since returned to a traditional store model.)

When Mellon was testing the water, "no one could put their head to what I was doing," she said, adding that poor timing led her brand to file for bankruptcy. “It was the way forward. I had new investors who wanted to come in who believed in what I was doing, and it was the right way to get there. "

Mellon partnered with Layfield for the relaunch of the brand in 2016 after it was introduced by an investor who felt their contrasting backgrounds would complement each other.

"Tamara definitely has a boost in fashion and luxury and design," said Layfield, formerly chief executive officer of an online outdoor clothing company. “She makes these beautiful shoes and I sell them online. But we learn each other's worlds. "

Tamara Mellon, co-founder of luxury shoe brand Jimmy Choo, plans to further expand her namesake brand.

Tamara Mellon, co-founder of luxury shoe brand Jimmy Choo, plans to further expand her namesake brand.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Layfield, a data and e-commerce expert, said she and Mellon were connected by a shared sense of fearlessness and the kind of company they wanted to create. "We want to think about how we can do things differently," Layfield said, explaining that they rejected the "prescribed PTO policy" – free time – to motivate employees. "I want people to be in line with our mission and willing to do everything needed to get there, but they also can't be balanced in their personal lives," she added.

The age-old mystery between work and private life resonated first hand with Mellon. Mellon finally moved from New York to L.A. to be closer to her old partner, Michael Ovitz, who was a co-founder of Creative Artists Agency.

"I was moved," Ovitz said by telephone. & # 39; She has tipped her entire life to come here. So that's quite an obligation. I'm lucky to be with such a & # 39; n talented, gifted and beautiful woman. I couldn't be happier. "

I'm lucky to be with such a & # 39; n talented, gifted and beautiful woman. I couldn't be happier.

Michael Ovitz

The couple met thanks to their deceased friend, Teddy Forstmann, at a business conference held by the billionaire financier in Aspen, Colo, in 2011. Today they live in a 28,000 square-meter mansion with the 17-year-old daughter of Mellon, Araminta & # 39; Minty & # 39; Mellon (from Mellon's former marriage to Matthew Mellon).

"I stood by Tory Burch," said Mellon, recounting the story of meeting Ovitz, "and he walked over to us, and he just looked at me and said," Are you Tamara Mellon? "And I said," Yes. "He said:" I would like to have a private drink with you. "I was like:" Wow, that's so cool. ""

Ovitz said he remembers the moment well. When he approached Mellon, all he could think about was, "What I was going to say when she said," No, "he said. Then he laughed before adding," I was trying to think of something smart as a second shot. "

Tamara Mellon, from left, Michael Ovitz, Kris Jenner and Corey Gamble at the party for the opening of the Mellon & # 39; s Palisades Village store in the Pacific Palisades in December 2018.

Tamara Mellon, from left, Michael Ovitz, Kris Jenner and Corey Gamble at the party for the opening of the Mellon & # 39; s Palisades Village store in the Pacific Palisades in December 2018.

(Chelsea Lauren / WWD / REX / Shutterstock)

Ovitz discovered that he had a lot in common with Mellon. "Frankly, all our interests are pretty much the same," he said, explaining that the two share a love of art, architecture, and design. “I had a deeper background in art than she did, and she has a much deeper background in fashion. So it has been a learning experience for both of us. The couple was also interested in technology and a shared work ethic.

"We talk a lot about things," Ovitz said. "We bounce everything off each other, so I also get advice from her about everything I do and I give her advice when she asks."

He remembers the first time Mellon mentioned her, see now, wear concept now. Six years ago they were in Capri, Italy, walking in a heat of 100 degrees and passing a store with winter items in the window. "She said," This model no longer works. We have to change it. "She was really ahead," Ovitz said, adding, "I'm impressed by her as an entrepreneur and as a creative person. Because I have spent so much time dealing with creative people, it is a miracle to see someone as good at business as creative or the other way around. It's hard to do and she did very well. "

Mellon has long been a master of reinvention, and it is made clear in her memoir, "In My Shoes" (Portfolio), which was released in 2013 and describes her roller coaster to success.

After quitting high school at the age of 16, Mellon worked in retail. From there, the Londoner had a brief period at a PR agency before he realized that she wanted to be the editor she had set up. She then landed at British Vogue and worked for five years as an accessory editor before being fired.

464805_IM_0912_mellon_4_RCG.JPG

Tamara Mellon at her office. "I am surrounded by a team of people I love," she says. "I come here every day proud of what we do."

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

By that time, Mellon had built a reputation in the tabloids as a party girl, an image underlined by a drug abuse problem. Mellon checked herself in rehabilitation, determined to get her life on the right track and to exchange her editorial performance in which designers were rewarded for a job as a designer.

During her time with British Vogue, Mellon met Jimmy Choo, who made bespoke shoes for Diana, Princess of Wales, and started the luxury brand Jimmy Choo in 1996. (The status of the shoe label was solidified when Carrie Bradshaw famously said, "Wait , I lost my Choo "during an important moment in the third season of HBO & # 39; s" Sex and the City. ") Mellon stayed with Jimmy Choo long after she and Choo broke up.

Tied by a non-compete clause of one year after leaving Jimmy Choo, Mellon, who allegedly cashed the company in for an estimated $ 135 million, used her break to write her memoirs. "It was very Catholic to me," she said, adding that placing a pen on paper enabled her to "put a lid on that chapter and move forward."

The book also examined her dysfunctional childhood and her early years & # 39; 20. Although her father was a co-founder of Vidal Sassoon and her mother was once a Chanel model, a much darker reality plagued her seemingly glamorous life.

"I had a stressful home life," Mellon said. "They now know that stress has an impact on the brain, and it is hard to hold information, so when I look back on my childhood, it clearly happened, and I did poorly in school."

Mellon was ambitious. The dream of launching a luxury shoe company kept her busy with recovery. "Shoes were my way to freedom," she said. "Starting a business for me at that age was about my independence, my freedom, making my own decisions, never being dependent on a father or a husband and being able to stand on my own two feet."

In the Tamara Mellon store.

In the Tamara Mellon store.

(Tamara Mellon)

Vogue's editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, one of Mellon's old friends, said the footwear designer is someone who "sees no boundaries for her." She considered Mellon's open book approach as a contribution to the ultimate success of the designer. "Tamara & # 39; s public persona is no different from her private person," Wintour said in an email sent last month during Milan Fashion Week. "She is essentially someone who radiates strength and vulnerability, glamor and self-contempt, a drive to succeed and a belief that life and the family must come first."

Despite the ups and downs of life (for example, her ex-husband died last year en route to rehabilitation in Cancun), Mellon herself has long been a positive example for Minty. "I wanted to be a good role model for her," Mellon said. “The way she sees the world and the way she talks about work – that makes me very proud. Especially when she was little, I had to travel a lot and I was a single parent. It is difficult. & # 39; She included her daughter in her work by taking her to factories in Italy and holding design meetings in Paris and exposing her to swatches and books between homework assignments.

She is essentially someone who radiates strength and vulnerability, glamor and self-contempt, a drive to succeed and a belief that life and the family must come first.

Anna Wintour

It appears that Minty is interested in following Mellon's silent footsteps – although she has slightly different ambitions than her mother. "She wants to be CEO of a fashion company," Mellon said. "She makes me smile. She is like: & # 39; Mom, I just want you to understand (that) when I enter your office, I am with Jill because that is my skill. I am not with you. & # 39 & # 39; First, her daughter, a senior at Brentwood School, plans to go to college and eventually get an MBA. "She said," I don't work for you because it would be nepotism, "said Mellon smiling and raised her hands.

The Mellon movement in Los Angeles is also a moment with a full circle. She spent much of her adolescence between London and Beverly Hills for her father's work, and she grew up next to Nancy Sinatra in a house on Whittier Drive. Mellon said she routinely drives past her parental home. However, L.A. and neighboring communities have evolved – and so have they.

"LA. Is now the cultural center of the world when you think about what's going on here with the explosion in the art world, the music companies that moved here, & she said." All technical startups. Fashion. is an exciting place to be now … I live the life I wanted to create I am surrounded by a team of people I love and I come here every day to be proud of what we do. & # 39; Mellon "Yes, it would be interesting to write the second book now."

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. (tagsToTranslate) anna wintour (t) cbd (t) shoes (t) jimmy choo (t) michael ovitz (t) palisades village (t) tamara mellon

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