Our Notable Women series features inspirational women who are leaders in their field and who we personally admire. We have deliberately chosen to profile women with a variety of different backgrounds, ages and careers in order to celebrate the diversity and creativity of the modern woman.
IT IS OUR PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE OUR inspirational FIFTH interviewee—TRACEY NEULS
Tracey Neuls is an award-winning shoe designer, known for her innovative designs and her beautiful, inviting boutiques. At the heart of Tracey's work is a desire to let people express their individuality and to provide timeless, original and comfortable footwear. Throughout her career Tracey has received numerous awards from the prestigious Royal Society of Art, Drapers, The London Design Museum, D&AD, New Generation Award and was asked to show her work at the Barcelona Museum of Modern Art. Neuls was nominated as 'One of the Top Ten Creatives' and fashion influencers living in London by TimeOut and her Marylebone Boutique is Mary Portas' top 5 best shops in the city.
As long-time fans of Tracey's designs, Notable was delighted to interview her as part of a special evening event at her Marylebone boutique. The interview and film below captures some of Tracey's inimitable character and wisdom. Thanks to all those who attended the event and made it such a stimulating evening.
WHAT IS YOUR AVERAGE DAY LIKE?
A Week! I juggle staff, factories, agents, daughter, husband and even my dog. In fashion there used to be two seasons and in between was some breathing time. I remember it but haven’t seen it in over a decade. Working for yourself means that all of life activities are melded into one. Having said this, one of my highlights is coffee in bed before the day begins.
What do you see as your biggest achievement(s) to date?
They say that if you own a business over 5 years, you have made it—I remember this date well. However as we turn the 2 decade corner in business, I think creating footwear without compromise to fashion dictates is a grand achievement. I always wanted to make footwear for people who invest in their look, choosing originality over trends. I think we have stayed our path and had fun along the way too.
Which other women inspire you the most and why?
Personally I feel very inspired by my mother and my daughter. Professionally, I feel inspired by Maria Speake’s interior design vision, Inge who runs Livingstone Studio in Hampstead, Sam Clark from Moro who has created amazing restaurants and fundraises for charity. In the public eye I do admire the work and style of Tilda Swinton.
Have you noticed a shift in terms of how women are being portrayed in the media in the last few years?
I am still a sucker for honesty. When you used to see photos of influential women wearing fashion, it was an indication of their actual taste. Today it is very difficult to tell who is wearing designs for money or because they want to. My brand is all about being you and knowing who you are and what you want. Our customers are strong confident women who I find rare sincerity in.
What do you think women are looking for from brands today?
Different women look for different things. Our gals consider our shoes an investment into individuality, quality and timelessness. The appreciation is emotional rather than disposable. In some cases our shoes are almost treated like pets!
What are your favourite brands and why?
I curate my wardrobe. There isn’t one designer that I single out. Vintage clothing has the most amazing emotional connection that any piece can provide. I think a combination of old and new individual pieces can make an original look. If I had to choose one, I have always been a regular fan of Comme des Garcon.
Do you think we need another term to replace ‘empowered’?
I actually looked up the definition. 'Over-used' would mean to me that ‘empowered' on the lips of everyone. If that is the case, then I don’t think we are there yet and there is still mileage in the word. Women empowered needs to be an awareness we feel every day.