We’re kicking off this year’s Girl Boss coverage with even more in-depth interviews and exploring the inspirations that get amazing female entrepreneurs going and the hacks that keep them on top. We start our new series with the smart, creative Jerelyn, founder and designer of italian-made shoe brand Jerelyn Creado.
HOC: Great to meet you, Jerelyn! You’ve been on quite a journey, in terms of your career and geographically…
Jerelyn: Yes and I ended up in Italy! I moved to Leeds back in 2010 from Mumbai and while I was studying there, I fell in love with a wonderful Italian man. He invited me to move to Italy with him, so I did!
Moving away from Leeds was difficult as it’s the city in which I learnt to be independent. It was the first city that I lived in on my own, without my parents. I had lots of friends and enjoyed everything about the city. I will always remember Leeds as the city where I actually discovered myself, but then again life moves on and change is good. Now my friends have a little holiday spot in Italy!
Moving to Italy was a big step, but I was excited to start something new, learn a new language and a new culture. Once I was living in Italy, one of my favourite things to do was window shopping in Milan and it was always the shoes that attracted my attention.
I did my research and found out about course in pattern making, prototyping and footwear design. We moved back to the UK and from then until where I am now with Jerelyn Creado was me saving up for the course and moving back to Italy to pursue my new obsession. It was tough to spend time away from my now-husband but he was behind me all the way and encouraged me to start my own brand. We recently moved to Granada, as you can probably tell, I adore travelling. Jerelyn Creado shoes are made back in Italy and being able to travel for work is absolutely wonderful.
HOC: Before we get into the important stuff, please tell us some hot tips about Italy?
Jerelyn: Haha, of course! I can’t get enough of the food and the style in Italy. My top tip would be a gem of a place; the gulf of Gargano in Puglia is a must visit. It’s the part on top of the heel of Italy that protrudes. It’s beautiful, the people are wonderful and the food and wine is amazing!
HOC: What we love about your brand is that you are a strong woman, designing beautiful shoes for other strong women.
Jerelyn: Thanks for saying that! I’ve been inspired by so many women but above all, my mother. My mother is and always was very independent. She managed our home and her job at the same time and we never wanted for anything! Not only is she independent but she is also very strong and patient.
Over the years I have been lucky to befriend and work with a lot of women. Of course, not all of them have been pleasant and kind, but it’s not those women that have left a mark on my life. The ones that have influenced my path are the ones that are not only strong but are also successful and compassionate. They helped me to become the person I am today and therefore when I created Jerelyn Creado they deserved to be part of it, which is why I’ve named many of the shoes from my collections after them.
For instance, Jovita is a childhood friend of mine. She is a few years older and I have always looked up to her for advice. She is like the older sister I never had. She was a top student at school and excelled at almost everything. She was always composed and very poised growing up and even now. The heel I designed in her name represents her because apart from her being good at everything she does she is also very easy going and fun. The design of Jovita is based on this personality. The red is the fun and easy going side while the perforations in black patent leather is the elegant/independent woman on top!
Women sometimes don’t realise that other women look up to them and inspire them. It’s very important for all of us to lift each other up and not put each other down.
HOC: What fantastic inspiration for naming your creations. Where does your design inspiration come from?
Jerelyn: The inspiration for my first collection came from men’s shoes; I have always loved to dress up a pair of Derbys with monk straps with tights and a dress or an Oxford shoe with a short jumpsuit. With my collection I wanted to create a similar vibe, but with heels or the saddle of the penny loafer on an ankle boot, the monk strap on a pump with toe cleavage. I love little twists on the classics and, of course, some bright colours!
A walk always helps with a creative block. I used to live in Wales, by the seaside and the fresh air proved to be very helpful. Runs have always been good for me as well, being active makes my brain sort of wake up.
HOC: What do you love about what you do?
Jerelyn: The whole process of designing footwear excites me; from researching for materials to going to fairs like Linea Pelle to find the perfect piece of leather. I love the detail I go into during discussions with the artisans about the different types of heels and even the brainstorming I have to do when I don’t find what I want and need to find a solution.
My favourite parts of it all are late night designing with music on and the day I go to the factory to see my designs come to life as prototypes before production.
I like to be present during the production phase and to get my hands dirty. At the end of the day, it is my brand and I want to be wholly part of everything. To me my shoes are my children, I want to be present for every moment in their lives!
HOC: What are your ambitions for Jerelyn Creado this year?
Jerelyn: My dream is to see my brand in Harrods, Selfridges and Browns in London and La Rinascente in Milan, Barney’s and Bloomingdales in New York. Realistically, these are part of my 5-year plan.
For now, we are enjoying selling direct to customer as I love the interaction. We’ll be showing at various fairs like Moda Made in Italy and hopefully launching a small pop-up store during London Fashion Week in September.
I would like to see Jerelyn Creado shoes in more stores and would love for more women to experience the style, comfort and craftsmanship of a quality pair of shoes. I am also planning to introduce a small men’s line as I have had a few requests.
HOC: In addition to your footwear, what other female run fashion brands do you love?
Jerelyn: I have always loved Isabel Marant, I love her designs; they’re very rock girl mixed with Parisian chic. I have watched a few documentaries on her and she seems super cool, I love finding out about the person behind the brand!
Another female designer who I admire is Victoria Beckham; she is truly someone to look up to when it comes to looking after business, family and doing all of that while looking absolutely stunning. I also like Giulia Rositani , that brand has lovely prints!
HOC: If you weren’t running Jerelyn Creado, what could career plan B have looked like?
Jerelyn: I used to be an event planner (back office) and I probably would’ve still been doing that or teaching kids English in Italy or Spain. When I was much younger, 12, I did want to be a model, but I’m only about 5 feet 3 inches!
If I had any advice to give to myself earlier in my career it would be to trust myself and my decisions and not be bothered about people’s opinions. Everyone has a right to have an opinion and it’s important to take the good out of it and not be affected by the bad!
To shop Jerelyn’s gorgeous collection of shoes head to jerelyncreado.com