When I was running the shoe business at Piperlime (an e-commerce start-up that was part of Gap), I had the opportunity to travel to Milan and attend the MICAM show.
TheMICAM is one of the largest and oldest footwear focused trade shows in the world.
It was my first time attending the show, and I had no idea what to expect. I’d been to countless shoe shows in the US over the years as a professional buyer, but nothing in my career compared to what I experienced at MICAM. You can imagine that for a shoe lover like me, going to shows and seeing thousands of pairs of shoes is inherently a fun experience. But this was life-changing. It was on that trip that I started thinking about the idea of what would eventually become Bells & Becks.
I clearly remember walking into the first of eight “halls”, and the smell of leather wafted over me. I looked out into the distance, and all I could see was booth after booth after booth of beautiful shoes- leather shoes. High heels, sandals, flats, booties, every heel height, style, color you could imagine. It was all there. And even more amazing, I’d never seen ANY of these shoes before, anywhere.
I could barely stand after the first day of walking the show in my adorable booties. That night, I marched myself straight to La Rinascente (the department store in Milan) and bought a new pair of flats that looked good and that I could actually walk in all day. I spent more on those shoes than I had been accustomed to spending back at home, but they were worth it.
I knew one day I’d be back. The realization that there’s so much incredible shoe product out there and available, and that none of it is accessible in the US was a clear opportunity. It was just a question of time for me. I never let go of the idea to start a shoe business focused on bringing distinctive, wearable footwear to the American market.
Today, I’m getting ready to travel back to Milan and attend the MICAM show.
I’m better prepared this time- I’ve got my cute, wearable walking shoes. My plan is to show up with stylish shoes, but hopefully no sore feet this time around.
Here’s what I’m taking with me:
- My favorite leopard pointy toe flats that I pretty much wear every day. I love them so much I had to order a second lookalike pair.
- Rose gold Superga’s, because they are Italian, and I love anything metallic and pink.
- My new Nicholas Kirkwood pointy-toe flats. I love the gray, and they are surprisingly comfortable for what they are. They can be dressed up and dressed down- versatile for the trip.
- One of my current favorite shoes- bordeaux velvet mid heel pumps. The color is so rich and looks amazing with denim. Besides that, they are surprisingly wearable.
- I pulled the trigger on another pair of cute sneakers because I know I need to be comfortable, but I still need to have some style at the show.
- … and the original pair of Chloe flats that I bought on the trip to Milan 5 years ago. Yes, I still have them. They were expensive at the time, but I still wear them. They are coming along for nostalgia sake, and because I hope they will bring me mazel (aka good luck).
I’m packed and ready to go. I’m excited about the future, and I can’t wait to realize the vision I had those many years ago. Here’s to discovering the special gems that will be just perfect for Bells & Becks in the coming days. I can’t wait to share with you what I find.
More shoe stories to come…
Ciao for now!