Friday, May 2, 2008

An Interview with Absolutely Audrey's owner and Founder, Crisa Barriball

courtesy of Absolutely Audrey

Girl Power is alive and well on the world-wide-web. Recently, while visiting Splendora, The Fabulous Girlfriend Network, I ran across the profile of Splendorita Crisa Barriball, owner of Absolutely Audrey, an online fashion boutique that sells shoe clips. That's right, I said shoe clips.

I went to the website and was pleasantly surprised by its beauty and how elegantly it showcases these beautiful pieces of jewelry for shoes. There are three different collections: Vintage Collection, Chic Collection (new designs), and the Bridal Collection. A vintage blast from the past, the surprisingly affordable designs are made fresh and new through their sheer beauty alone.

Fa'shoe'nista: I love Splendora because I get to meet and network with fabulous people like you, Crisa. It's women like you who have helped to bring glamour back to the forefront, and we here at FA'SHOE'NISTA! are eternally grateful. Oh, and your website is fabulously gorgeous.

Crisa: Thank you! I am a loyal fan of Splendora as well, since they were the first fashion informant who discovered me a few years ago!

Fa’shoe’nista: What led you to the concept of shoe clips as an e-business venture? How did you get started?

Crisa: The brilliant concept of shoe clips started many years ago, they date as farback as 1930s. Once a footwear staple for every fashionable woman, shoe clips gradually disappeared as companies created shoes with built-in ornaments. Absolutely Audrey believes that with the right touch of elegance and sophistication, the shoe clip trend can be successfully revived. My inspiration came from my mother who was a collector of vintage shoe clips. In 2004, I discovered that no one sold shoe clips, and decided to start my own online boutique specializing in the affordable and elegant transformation of shoes.

Fa’shoe’nista: How did one of Hollywood's most famous fashion icons inspire your business? What's the connection between shoe clips and Audrey Hepburn?

Crisa: Audrey Hepburn was the muse of elegance and grace, and being a big fanof not only her professional work but also her personal character, I couldn’t think of any other way to describe “Fabulous”, Audrey Hepburn was and is the Muse of Style.

Fa’shoe’nista: Why should the modern day Shoemaven purchase your "shoe jewels" as opposed to buying a shoe that's already embellished?

Crisa: The current shoe trends have shoes embellished with various ornaments, from leather flowers, to rhinestone bows, or fabric buttons. When you buy a pair of shoes that already has the ornament permanently attached, then you are committed to that style forever. By purchasing shoe clips, you not only add versatility to your existing shoes, but you can also extend the life of those simple black pumps or plan mary janes. Another fabulous way to use the shoe clips is to clip them on your jacket, or hat or handbag! The uses are multiple!

Fa’shoe’nista: What has been the reaction in sales to this vintage accessory? Does one particular collection outsell the others?

Crisa: Our most popular category is the Bridal Collection. Brides love adding that extra sparkle on their wedding shoes. We have a lot of brides that also buy shoe clips for their bridesmaids gifts since it is a very unique accessory idea. We had a few brides buy multiple sets of shoe clips that they would also take with them on their honeymoon. Instead of packing three pairs of shoes, you can pack one simple pair and add the matching shoe clips according to the occasion.

Fa’shoe’nista: You're introducing a slice of fashion history to a new generation which is the essence of what vintage is all about. Vintage fashion has skyrocketed in recent years and its popularity with younger style mavens is evident with the resurgence of designer Betsey Johnson and the success of consignment shops that make high-end, gently used, designer threads accessible to the masses. What age group would you say comprises the bulk of your customer base?

Crisa: We have a wide group of customers, from the mature women of the mid 40’s who used to wear shoe clips years ago, to the young trendinistas who love to be one-step ahead in fashion. We had mothers buy shoe clips for their daughters for birthday gifts, and daughters buying them for their mothers for Mother’s Day gifts!

Fa’shoe’nista: The designs are beautiful works of art. How involved are you with the design process? Do you start at the drawing board, and then submit your designs to the manufacturer?

Crisa: Yes, every shoe clip style for the Chic and Bridal collection is created by me. After careful research on the fashion trends, like what are the “in” colors, and what is the “in” era I determine the design. For example, this season has focused a lot on the ‘60s, and designers like Marc Jacobs have brought back that retro feel in their clothing and footwear collection. I research the shoe trends that express that trend and get my inspirations from what I see. Sometimes I will see a Manolo Blahnik style and try to create a shoe clip with a similar feel. Having the option of getting a celebrity look for less is priceless!

Fa’shoe’nista: You've received a lot of press coverage such as Lucky Magazine, In Style, and Elegala Weddings as well as a featured spot on the Today Show (how cool is THAT?) Were you surprised by the popularity of your shoe clips and the favorable reviews?

Crisa: I was honestly very surprise that they discovered me that quickly! I don’t have a PR agent so when TV networks and publications call me for stories it’s fantastic. The other day I got a call from a boutique in Milan who read a story on Cosmopolitan Bride (UK edition) and they are interested in having our shoe clips at their store!

Fa’shoe’nista: Where do you see your company five (5) years from now?

Crisa: My goal is to expand the choices of styles, and the number of stores who carry our shoe clips nationally and internationally. We are also evaluating the option of opening a shoe boutique in Chicago.

Fa’shoe’nista: Okay, at the risk of sounding clich├ęd, what advice would you give to young women with an eye for fashion, who're looking to increase their girl power by igniting their entrepreneurial flame?

Crisa: Be open to any feedback from friends and family and don’t be afraid to spread your creative wings!

FA'SHOE'NISTA! thanks you Crisa, for your time and your contribution to the return of Glamour!


Francis Girard said...

shoe clips? splendora? these are all new words to me - I must know more about them, im off to research now. thanks for the post i love learning new fashion related "stuff" xf

Fashion Addict said...

hi there! I just wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog and commenting! I have just added your link to my blogroll and I would like for you to contact me again when you have added mine to yours! thanks again!

Francis Girard said...

HI There
I thought i commented on this last week but I must have had an IT issue.
These clips are very cute, Im imagining all the possibilities with all those old forgotten about shoes... i feel a revival coming on.

Danz said...

I've been looking at shoe clips on ebay for such a long time but never got around to buying any. Come to think of it, I need shoes too. :S :(

Danz said...

Thanks for your comment cheryl :) I've added your link to my blogroll!

Fashion Addict said...

Hi there! I thought you stopped blogging so I took your link off my blogroll! sorry about that! Anyway, I have added your link to my blogroll!!