Source: The Straits Times, Singapore
If the man in the picture looks familiar, there’s no question why. The 43-year-old local shoe designer Mashizan Masjum, based in Florence, Italy, founded his shoe label last year in July. Mashizan has taken many risks in his career to get to where he is now. In 2005, he quit his job as a television film producer and moved to New York and started working at National Geographic. In 2013, there was a spark of spontaneity where he took a sabbatical to attend a four-month shoemaking course. And, the rest is history.
Read on for our exclusive interview with the talented, Mashizan.
1) What is the story behind Mashizan?
Starting out with TV documentaries, I have produced, directed and written for international networks like National Geographic, Discovery, History and others for almost 20 years. Traveling was probably the best thing—exploring various issues and topics around the world. However, something was still missing.
In 2013, the opportunity came when I left production and pursued my studies in Florence. From there, one thing led to another—I started developing a collection, a brand was born and before you know it, we’ve got Hollywood celebrities becoming fans of the brand after two years!
Keeping true to my background in TV, it is hard to erase my work in documentaries. As such, I decided to marry my two loves: Documentaries and Shoes. Each collection of mine is inspired by a documentary which I have worked on before. Only this time, I’m telling stories through my shoes.
2) What was your plan of action once you decided to launch Mashizan?
It was all about getting the branding right—from the logo, to packaging and production of the first collection, we had to find the right factory in Italy that was willing to take a gamble on a new luxury brand like ours.
Aside to that, we also had to tackle the business side of things such as our marketing, sales and distribution channels. Being a designer is just one part of the job, there’s a whole range of skills I had to quickly learn in order to launch the brand.
3) What successes have you achieved so far at Mashizan, and what new opportunities are you working towards?
We are still bespoke and niche in many ways. As an emerging brand, we have started to develop our own loyal following organically. We are fortunate to have famous celebrities like Solange Knowles, Taryn Manning, Sara Bareilles and Vivica Fox, wearing our shoes. In addition, it was a privilege to be covered by international media including Vogue UK, Vogue Italia, and even Bloomberg TV.
But, there is a lot more to do. As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. It is a marathon that take a lot of stamina and resilience to make it in the big world of fashion.
4) Which 3 adjectives best describe Mashizan, the brand?
Elegant, Fearless, Stylish
5) What are 5 pieces from Mashizan that should definitely be on our wish list and why?
1.Tambora Silver Booties
With its stunning textured look, that’s a showstopper for sure.
2.Iridescent Patent Leather Simona Pumps
A unique feature of this pieces is the fact that it changes colour under different angles of light and also, depending on your outfit. The leather picks up the colours of your apparel.3.Pony Hair Crete D’Orsay Flats
This Black and White Flat is super comfortable and stylish. Great for both day and evening use
4.Kristy Laced-Up Sandals In Red
It brings out the fun and flirty nature of the wearer. It’s a fun shoe that goes well with anything!5.Etna Black Patent Leather Boots with Lace
It’s edgy and mysterious. Yet, it has a hint of naughtiness. Lace and leather—what’s not to like about this combination!
6) Do you have any advice for other creative professionals aspiring to start their own companies?
Start by getting your branding right. Get to the core of who you are whether it is as a person, a designer or an entrepreneur. There will always be supporters who will love you and naysayers who will cast their doubts on you.
Be strong in your core. Once you believe in that, everything else is just noise.
Source: The Straits Times, Singapore