Annie Abbott, Shoe designer

Annie Abbot
Habbot Shoes

What is your professional/training background?
I have a mixed background of business, product development and design. I have a Commerce Degree, Interior Design diploma, and Shoe making certificate. But probably my most valuable ‘training’ has come from loads of ‘on-the-job’ design experience working with shoe makers during my years at footwear retail company, the Figgins Group. (The now dismantled company was responsible for creating brands such as Evelyn Miles, Midas, Mollini, Suchi, Shoo Biz and Scooter). I am so lucky to be working with such great craftsmen now - I still learn new techniques from them each time I visit their workrooms in Italy.

What do you make/create or do?
I design two women’s shoe collections a year under my own ‘habbot’ label. I work very closely with small team of shoe makers in Southern Italy who are responsible for bringing my designs to life. Whilst I do take care of all aspects of my small business I am most happy when I’m in my tiny studio coming up with new designs and colour combinations. We are only onto our third season, but do sell through a handful of Melbourne boutiques, on-line and via our own pop-up shops (we opened the latest in Chapel street pop-up last week).

What other creative areas would you like to explore as a side-project to your current work, or move into full-time?
I would like to collaborate with a talented designer from another sector and create a shoe that benefits from our combined design perspectives. (A clothing designer would be the obvious choice, but I’d actually love to explore some other design areas such as a textile designer, photographer, illustrator, jewellery designer? I’d love the challenge of working their design ideas into a new ‘shoe’ medium.)

I would also like to add a men’s collection (as I have always loved men’s dress shoe silhouettes) but that is quite a way off yet!

What skills do you have that help you run your business, or what skills would you like to develop?
I am really grateful that I have a pretty good grasp on the basic tenants behind running a profitable business from my commerce studies and many years as a retail ‘buyer’ (although I must admit I am finding it more difficult to keep the ‘emotion’ out of my financial decisions now that it’s my own business “baby”).

The marketing side of things is probably most difficult for me as there are so many ways to try to grow an audience but it’s tricky to know how to prioritise them. I’m also not really a natural ‘seller’ so need to work on cleaning up my communication skills and finding a way to get my message across whilst still letting the shoes do most of the talking.

List five people, businesses or websites/blogs that keep you motivated and inspired, and why?
- Louise Olsen & Stephen Ormandy of Dinosaur Designs - I still get mesmerized by the bold use of shape and colour in their work.

- Bunnings (in particular their paint section) - I love both graduated and contrasting colours and can stare at the paint chip wall for hours. In fact, I’m planning on re-creating a similar graduated colour card wall at the Milan shoe fair I’m exhibiting at in March.

- Women wearing my shoes - there is nothing more motivating that seeing another woman appreciate what I’ve created enough to wear it on her feet!

- - I sometimes just get on this site to remind myself of what you can achieve with a lot of hard work, faith and determination. My first ‘ real’ job was in the buying office of Net-a-porter ten years ago (when it was in its second year of business). Back then, the founder of NAP was being knocked back by most well known brands who didn’t “believe” in on-line shopping. The ‘warehouse’ was in a bedroom and ‘pack and dispatch’ took place in the bathroom of the Chelsea artist studio office. They’ve come a long way since then!

- My parents and husband - because they’ve encouraged me every step of the way so far and whilst I know they don’t expect anything for this, I’d love to make it worth their while!

Contact Annie via annie/at/