Canadian-born Tanya Heath was spending too many nights on too-high heels. It was Paris in the mid-90s and no one dared to pack a pair of pain-relieving flats when the going got tough (we suffer for our art, boys).
“I just fantasised non-stop about a shoe where you could just take the heels off, and that would go from a comfortable low-heel to a high-heel, and still make me look good!” Heath told the Daily Mail.
The breakdown of her poor feet pushed forth a breakthrough for Heath and women everywhere, so in September 2013, she launched her namesake line in Paris.
The concept of Heath’s design is a clever one. The customer has one pair of shoes, but doesn’t have to stick to one heel hight. With a one-click method, it’s easy to switch out a 3.5-inch heel for one that is 1.5 inches, blue for black, shiny for sparkly, and more.
Ahead of the opening of her first stateside store in Los Angeles, I sat down with Heath to talk about how she came to build this burgeoning brand. The boutique, which sits in the heart of Robertson Boulevard’s trendy shopping district, is impeccably decorated. Color schemes are kept to a minimum so that the focus lies on the rainbow of heel options.
As someone who is crap at wearing high heels and packs flats for any occasion, I was very into this concept. The longest I’ve ever worn heels has been 45, and even then I’m whining to whomever will quasi-listen.
“It wasn’t done back then,” Heath told me about the very idea of packing a comfy pair of shoes. “The irony is, now they [those chic Parisian women] do it. Times have changed a lot in the 20 years that I’ve been in Paris.”
Before starting her brand, Heath worked at theMministry of Foreign Affairs in Canada, got her MBA, worked for a strategy consulting firm, then moved into technology, teaching classes at an engineering school. This background prepared her for the bumpy road that is starting a business.
Heath sold her apartment to raise capital for the brand, hesitating briefly until her business partner told her to that it was going to happen.
“You have to let go and you have to believe it’s going to work,” she said, adding that she never ignores her gut when it comes to decisions both big and small.
“Every professional mistake I’ve made in my life is when I didn’t follow my own voice. If I don’t believe in it, I won’t do it,” Heath told me. “You need to feel whole with what you’re doing in order to project the passion.”
Heath’s insistence on staying true to herself reminded me a lot of The Duchess of Cambridge, whose decisions – whether sartorial, personal or professional – are hers alone to make, despite several accusations to the contrary.
“I love her style because she’s timeless, she’s classic,” Heath said about Catherine. “She dresses for her body instead of on a trend, and I think she does a lot to promote British fashion.
“I think she’s more interested in looking good, dignified, and elegant and I think she’s very appropriate to her role. She’s become a style icon, an antidote to so much that’s out there.”
PS: LOOK AT ALL THESE SPARKLES