We caught up with Ce Ce Chin, founder of 80%20, to get some insight on her approach to running a successful shoe brand celebrating it’s 5th birthday this year!
Share a little about your background and “Eureka!” moment. Did you always envision a creative career?
I always knew I would start my own collection. I was trained as a handbag designer, so I thought I would do an independent bag line. But about 6 years ago I spray painted stencils on Chinatown slippers and wore them out just for fun. Someone from Daily Candy noticed and then wrote a story about me and the shoes. Suddenly I got a ton of emails and calls asking about my collection. This is was Eureka moment- I felt the Universe spoke to me and said, we need your shoes, you need to commit to this!
How did the hidden wedge become 80%20′s signature feature?
Originally 80%20 started as a response to the sneakerhead trend- I felt that there wasn’t a cool feminine sneaker for girls. However the line has evolved as my own fashion sense has well, grown up. I loved the comfort of sneakers, but they were just, well… flat. I’m 5 foot 4 and I wanted to appear taller, but heels weren’t really my game either. So the hidden wedge sorta grew out of my own need. It’s kinda like the padded bra of footwear!
You recently celebrated 80%20′s 5th anniversary. How do you envision the brand 5 years from now? What about 10 years?
In 5 years I’d like to have 80%20 retail stores dotted around the country, in metropolitan hotspots. And the stores would sell a larger lifestyle brand offering- bags, socks, and some apparel. Maybe even stuffed animals! In ten years, well Jesus…… I hope by then I’ll have more time to play house, but in the coolest way possible, ya know!
Jet setting is crucial part of a designer’s job in our global economy. To date, what has been your most memorable travel opportunity?
Doing the back stroke inside a large fresh water cave on my most recent vacation to Tulum, Mexico. I remember staring at the rocky stalagmites on the ceiling and feeling completely in touch with nature.
80%20 tends to pick up on a versatile silhouette and adjust the shoe to fit seasonal trends. Which particular style is your favorite to work with?
This season I’ve obsessed with our newest platform sandal wedge with a molded cork footbed. I swear I can run in this shoe- I think it feels even better than a sneaker.
We like some mystery…give us two truths and a lie!
On my bucket list: surfing a crazy long big wave by assistance of a tow ride jet ski; making baby shoes; running in the NY Marathon.
Any advice for aspiring designers trying to make a splash in contemporary footwear?
The sexy advice is, Believe in yourself and others will be believe in you. On a less sexy note, but equally if not more important- plan your expectations and logical steps to meet them. For example, how many units do you need to sell to make X amount of money? What is the plan of action to sell your product? How will you make yourself and your product known?