What is Poise you might ask? It is luxury, composure and elegance. Emma Boutros wanted a weird name that rang to the ear and would stop a person at the sound of it, intrigued to know more. Going from A to P in the dictionary, Poise was the name the designer chose for her shoe brand.
Here’s what the creator of Poise design had to say about her success story and what the future holds for her brand.
Tell us how did you get into the shoe industry and become a shoe designer.
The story goes back to my childhood, I always had a plus-size figure to deal with since I was a kid, and I never found any clothing piece that would help reflect my personality or myself as a person because nothing would fit. For instance, I had to wear over-sized black sweat pants and trousers forever, so shoes were my way of expression. I had them in every single color and shape possible and they were my only way to express my individuality; I always felt that shoes were an extension of my body, the part of me that mattered the most, and that’s why I decided to do this for other people. I worked in printing and publishing for a while but then I decided to do what I love most and design shoes. When I first started eight years ago, I wanted to create a line of statement pieces; I never really cared about classics. Wearing my shoes was going to be a full experience to the woman wearing them.
What is the best thing about designing shoes?
I love seeing people wearing my pieces; this whole experience of how it makes them feel is very satisfying. Their interaction with the pieces I create is what I love the most. When designing my shoes, I always have comfort in mind. That’s why I use highest Italian quality and the focus of my design is according to Middle Eastern footwear proportions.
Where do you derive inspiration for a new collection?
Up till today, I have been releasing two collections per year- a fall/winter and spring/summer. My main source of inspiration is people; people who are put outside their comfort zone, people thrown in extreme environments and their reactions towards it. For example, one of my collections was inspired by a movie called Sybil, which is about a girl who has a multiple personality disorder. As for my latest collection, The Little Prince was the main inspiration. Those unusual situations faced are reflected in my prints, in the complexity of the cut and so on.
Who are your modern-day muses? Any of which you wish to wear your designs?
Honestly, I don’t think I have any modern-day muse. My muse is every single woman I meet because I see a different aspect of being a woman in each one of them. And I like the fact that I’m a woman designing for women. It gives me total insight on what a woman needs, since I know what we go through in our daily lives. For example, a woman is not always ready to party so it’s not always comfortable to walk in 18″ stilettos. When it comes to women shoe design, you have to be realistic, at the same time feminine and stylish.
How do you use social media when it comes to your brand? Is it important?
I believe social media is very important. When I started, there was no social media so it was very tough. If I had to start over today, I would accomplish in a year what I have accomplished in five. Today, you have a global reach; social media made everything easier. I personally have bloggers ordering shoes from Brazil or L.A, people I had no access to before Instagram.
What has been your career highlight?
It was my collaboration with Coca Cola; we were the first Middle Eastern designer to collaborate on the design of a coke can. It was a huge success and it extended the collaboration to a line of footwear. It was really huge for me.
Who is the Poise Design woman? Why?
The Poise Design woman is a millennial jetsetter. She’s someone who cares about what she is wearing; she wants to make a statement. She values the quality and comfort; and wants to stand out from the crowd with a distinct footwear piece.
What makes Emma Boutros different from other footwear designers in the region?
My designs are original and exclusive; most of my pieces have embroideries, hand-patches, a mix of colours and fabrics. I always like to add an Arab touch to my shoes. Poise Design is well-known for the Kaffya print. It is a traditional print common to all Arabs, which I mixed with high-quality fabric and embroidery until it became my signature. I’m basically spreading our culture worldwide.
If you weren’t a Footwear designer, what would you want to be today?
A chef! I love cooking! Maybe at a later stage in life, I would love to have my own restaurant.
What is the most comfortable pair of shoes you’ve ever worn?
I would say Charlotte Olympia. Some people think that being a shoe designer, I wouldn’t wear other brands, but I do! Whenever I like a pair of shoes, I actually buy it. I never copy it because I respect the time and effort that a designer has put into their creation, and I find it unethical to copy or buy a knock-off.
What is one thing most people would be surprised to know about you?
Well, I am very unorganized! It doesn’t show, but I can get chaotic! I don’t sleep much; I think sleep is a waste of time; my sleeping time is 3 hours per night.
Define, what is a good shoe?
A good shoe is a shoe that serves a purpose; it has to make you feel something; whether that feeling is sexy, cute, confident, or comfortable. A good shoe is one that makes a statement: wear the simplest outfit and let the shoes do the talking.
What is next for Poise Design?
We are currently pursuing the collaboration we have with the bridal sneakers line of Superga. We are also starting a man’s line in fall/winter and a sub-line for Poise Design which will be a more commercial collection.
What’s the one shoe message you’d like to spread?
I think it’s more of a general message related to your daily life. When you are looking for what you want to do for the rest of your life, find something that is related to your personal story. Money is a reward, not a goal. Therefore, create a product or a service that means to you as a person, in order to wake up and do it happily every morning.
By Dana Mortada