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Wonder Woman Wednesday: Emmy Scarterfield

We caught up with the Creative Director at Emmy London, the luxury shoe brand, to find out a little more about the mastermind behind the brand

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Founder at Emmy London, Emmy Scarterfield - Claire Graham Photography
Founder at Emmy London, Emmy Scarterfield - Claire Graham Photography

The entrepreneur and talented designer behind her designer shoe brand, Emmy London, Emmy Scarterfield is our Wonder Woman this Wednesday.

Tell me about your background.

I’m a creative first and entrepreneur second.

I’ve always loved shoes even from a really early age and always knew I wanted to be a shoe designer which I feel very blessed about. So it was more about how I was going to follow my dream rather than what do I want to do.

I trained at Cordwainers College, then went straight into my first design job at M&S which I lovingly refer to as my finishing school phase now. From there I moved to Milan and worked for Giorgio Armani and Bottega Veneta designing shoes and bags, that’s where my love and appreciation of refined craftsmanship really took hold of my heart.

When I returned to London, I freelanced for a few British fashion brands until I took the plunge and launched my own luxury shoe brand, Emmy London.

Read more: Understand how the advocate of sustainable fashion, Sanyukta Shrestha, found herself designing bridalwear in our previous Wonder Woman profile.

How did you get into bridal?

The idea was born out of a lightbulb moment, there was a genuine gap in the market. For me it was all about matching up my skill set - my attention for detail and passion for craftsmanship, with the opportunity that I saw within the market.

Bridal is niche but has wide appeal with longevity - it is the perfect fit for my feminine, elegant and timeless aesthetic. The bridal industry appealed to me as it felt like a much gentler industry to become a part of than mainstream fashion and much more approachable.

14 years on and I still love my job; I love that I get the opportunity to make so many women happy with the power of shoe love!

Read more: discover how designer Jaqcui James recently got into bridal.

What are your secrets to success?

Firstly, being focussed - honing in on what I am good at and sticking to that, not trying to be everything to everyone. I carved out our niche market and although it could be tempting to spread out into multiple products for different lifestyles we have stayed focussed on what we are good at. I believe this has been key to the success and longevity of the business.

Secondly, being confident in our brand and the business decisions we make. I am not a procrastinator or worrier - I don’t waste time worrying about the unknown or the future that we can’t control. I am comfortable with risk, this proved particularly useful in the initial stages of setting up the business - I often find this quite exhilarating!

Thirdly, I’ve found it’s really important not to get distracted by other people, your competitors and especially other brands copying your work. You can waste lots of time looking over your shoulder and this negativity can often hold you back.

Instead I find competition to be healthy, it forces you to up your game, to be forward-thinking and push the bar. I learnt this from my job at Bottega where our designs were copied a lot. It’s important to turn this energy around and see it as a compliment that forces you to push the boundaries of innovation and avoid becoming complacent.

Finally, becoming a mum to my twin girls ten years ago also taught me to be much more time efficient and stricter with myself. Focussing my time on productivity and not worrying about things that are out of my control. Every business decision I make is based on a criteria of ‘is this going to make a difference?’ If the answer is no then it’s not worth doing!

Read more: Find out the secrets to success of Founder and Lead Designer of maternity brand Tiffany Rose here.

What’s your greatest achievement so far?

Opening our flagship boutique in Chelsea has certainly been my biggest professional achievement so far. Moving from our boutique in North London to the luxury hub of bridal was quite a big step for the brand and something that I could have felt intimidated by, but instead I felt like I belonged there.

My great, great, great grandfather - Charles Digby Harrods - ​the founder of the world-famous, iconic Harrods in Knightsbridge​ actually lived around the corner from the shop. So entrepreneurship and luxury retail is very much in my blood and I like to think​ he would be really proud of what I have achieved.

As a brand we are very proud that we have got to our current position with self-funded growth, we still have complete control of the business, something that is very important to us - we value freedom so much.

On a personal note my greatest ever achievement is my twin girls - Alice and Beatrice.

Read more: Discover Charlie Brear’s greatest achievement here.

What’s your favourite part of your job?

I love the fact that in bridal you get a lot of direct feedback and recognition that you are doing something well and are thereby directly making people happy - this gives me a lot of job satisfaction.

I still absolutely love meeting our brides, hearing their love stories, how they found us, what the shoes mean to them, and getting that instant feedback and gratification is such a thrill! Even though we are a luxury brand with a high end price point we are a very warm and welcoming team and accessible to everybody.

One thing unites our brides - their shoe love - their purchase is often a one off and means so much to them, they are never going to do it again. To be a part of their bridal journey is really something special.

Read more: Check out Milliner Alexandra Harper’s Wonder Woman Wednesday profile here.

How does an employee catch your attention, or impress you?

I like to employ people that I see a little of myself in. I admire it when other people in our team have a shared passion or drive for success and they can add something to the journey and gain that shared sense of achievement. For me it’s all about going that extra mile and taking pride in what we do.

Self-worth is also a very important trait and believing that they can add something special to the business and having the confidence to express that. Strong ambition and the willingness to share in the journey and drive the business forward.

Read more: Find out what bridal retailer Abigail Neill looks for in an employee.

What does your typical working day look like?

Most days have an early start with my first focus being on my girls and their day ahead. I like to get up early and get any family jobs done before they wake and the chaos of the day begins.

Once the girls are sorted and off to school I click into work mode. My time is split between the Chelsea boutique and the design studio in North London so depending on my location the day ahead can look very different.

In the boutique I may be carrying out a bespoke appointment with brides or meeting press. At the design studio I could be sketching, choosing new colours from the tannery or working on embellishment designs for the latest collection. All of our hand finishing is carried out in the studio so I oversee that process closely.

I also have to spend time on my jewellery collection with H.Samuel - so this could include sketching or liaising with the team on exciting diamond innovations. No two days are ever the same and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

We have a culture of team meetings, encouraging people to share their ideas. A giant mood board takes centre stage at each of our locations where the team are invited to pin up inspiration.

The day ends with a bit of a juggle between the girls and taking some quiet time to unwind, my current guilty pleasure is finishing the day with an episode of my favourite ‘’This Is Us’’.

Read more: Check out our My Diary entrance with bridal retailer Stephanie Hanks to find out how she spends a typical working day.

5 Interesting Facts about Emmy:

1) I am one of four children - the 2nd eldest, we have all been really successful in following our passions and turning them into a vocation rather than just a hobby.

2) My dream holiday would be a cattle drive on horseback - true city slickers style!

3) My ultimate wind down is camping, wearing wellies, no make-up and no WiFi - bliss!

4) I had my right kidney removed last summer and had to embrace the art of recovery.

5) I work with my husband Dickie, originally it filled me with fear but we have complementary skill sets with very defined roles and it works really well for us as a couple, family and business. I wouldn’t want to and couldn’t do it without him so that was the best business decision we ever made!

Want more? Check out our Wonder Woman profile on Marisa Rooney to find out 5 interesting facts about this successful bridal retailer.

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