She is only 29 years old but designer Dionne Gooding has a lot of high heels ambitions.
She designs and sells shoes and handbags in London through her company Dionne Gooding Designs and sells mostly to shops and through her website Her company designs flats, high heels, mid heels, wedges and peep toe shoes. She also designs clutch and handbags.
According to her website, she established her company “with a vision to create women’s footwear and accessories, exuding show-stopping individuality and feminine glamour.
Dionne Gooding’s distinctive collections are designed to make a dazzling impact. Her signature themes of pieces in vibrant, eye-catching prints or embellished with jewels, studs and Swarovski crystals, augmenting the style of the women who wear them. From killer heels to ballerina pumps, it’s all about the attitude”
Though born in the UK, she is heavily influenced by tropical African colours and some of her clients are from Africa. Not surprising that she showcased her designs during the African Fashion week that took place in London from August 1-3 2013.
She spoke to Francis Ngwa about her designs
Q How long have you been designing?
I have been designing for the past three years
Q What got you into designing shoes of all things
I began by designing textiles when I was in the University. After that, I went on to do a shoe making and design course. I have always been interested in shoes and handbags so I decided to start my own company designing my own shoes and handbags..
Q How challenging is it designing shoes?
I will say it is OK now but the hardest part is getting started, finding your market and just testing and seeing what works for you really. I have been doing it now for a few years so I happen to know what works for me. As I said, it is Ok now but you need to push and work very hard in the beginning
Q When you first started out, what were some of the most difficult problems you had to overcome?
The most difficult challenge I faced was finding my market. I knew what shoes I wanted to design and produce but I needed to research to know who was going to buy my shoes. Getting a target market basically is the biggest challenge.
Q Who are some of your best clients?
Some of my best clients come from Nigeria, some are here in London and I also have some clients in the USA.
Q What inspires you when you first draw your initial designs? I can see some high heels here on your stall
I am mainly inspired by African prints, , I love tropical colours and evening wear which is why I like designing high heels which are good to wear with any kind of outfit. I design so clients can wear my shoes and carry my handbags. You can still wear a plain outfit and wear some very good shoes and carry a handbag. Its that kind of stuff that inspires me a lot.
Q You are presently wearing some bright coloured orange high heel shoes, did you design those?
Yes I did.
Q How long does it take you to design a pair of shoes like the ones you are wearing now?
The shoes I am presently wearing have a swede upper and then they have kente on the platforms and heels. To design shoes like this, it depends on the platform. It could take anything from weeks to months. It depends on what results I want to get, what kind of mode, the season and some other factors. There is no fixed time you need to design any type of shoes. It depends really. You can say it takes anything between four to six months.
Q After designing what happens?
When I finish designing the shoes, I then take it to a factory that produces them for me. A manufacturer does the final work.
Q To start a shoe design business, do you need a big bank balance to begin with?
You need to start small. You need to start with the available resources you have and then work your way up. Generally, fashion is not the cheapest industry to go into but like any other business venture, you need to start small and work your way up slowly.
Q Starting off in the shoe design business was like challenging yourself I presume?
Yes. I wanted to see just how far I could go. I have always loved shoes and handbags really and I wanted to establish a business out of that passion.
Q What do your friends and family think about a 29 year old woman who is already an established business woman in her own right?
All my friends love my shoes as well. Some of them help me with my events and marketing and they are very positive and very supportive of the business.
Q Do they buy the shoes and handbags too?
Yes of course. They buy sometimes and they are lucky because they get them as gifts as well during birthdays, Christmas. They sometimes get nice shoes from me.
Q What is the price range for the shoes you sell?
Generally, they start from about £75- £100. We however have discount prices when we are attending fashion shows like this one. You can see we have shoes here selling from £40-£65.
Q So you are really not selling cheap shoes?
They are not cheap but they are also not expensive.
Q Lets say a couple of years down the line, what will you be doing in shoe designing then?
I will like to be selling in big boutiques then, departmental stores and eventually have my own shop as well.
Q It is difficult getting big departmental shops to sell the shoes?
I haven’t really tried to be honest. I am comfortable selling on a small scale now with the boutiques I sell supply. I also sell through my website and during events like this London fashion week. There is always room for progress. I am sure in a few months time, I would have met all my targets with the boutiques and so will need to take things to the next level. I sell an average of thirty shoes a month but sometimes I do sell more especially when there are events I have to attend. It all depends
Q Any advice to any young girls out there who might also want to get into shoe designing?
I will tell them to research their market, plan properly and also keep on top of their finances. That is very important.