The idea of Maylis de Lacoste Lareymondie, the brand is elegant and contemporary, with its shoes made some of the finest leathers and bespoke techniques.
Maylis explains why she started to design bespoke riding boots and loafers, and which women inspire her in her work.
I was born and raised in France, into a family with a rich history that can be traced back hundreds of years and is steeped in culture and tradition. As a child, I had a passion for equestrian pursuits, and I fell in love with my riding boots. Moving to New York eight years ago, I took on this city’s unique character, as everyone who moves here does: We live life to the fullest, every minute of every day. And of course I worked in finance, which is furiously competitive and forward-looking. You’ll find all of those elements in my company’s offerings and my personal leadership philosophy—I seek to merge beauty with contemporary taste, find people who share my passion for elegance, and keep a sharp focus on what’s needed to succeed on our own terms.
How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Lareymondie?
Think what it must be like to work in private equity in the financial capital of the world, and multiply that by 10. It’s always intense—you’re surrounded by skilled professionals at the top of their game. As you come through that fire, you learn a lot about yourself. Over time, I’ve learned to manage the stress and the risks, recognize my weaknesses, and add to my strengths. By any measure, my time in that world has made me a much better businesswoman.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Lareymondie?
The biggest challenge has been to find bootmakers who can combine traditional couture techniques with contemporary needs and tastes. I obviously understand the realities, speed and mass production being valued over quality. On the flip side, the highlight has been finding that there is a real market for true quality. We offer two distinct lines, Lareymondie Couture and Lareymondie Luxury, and the single most important element they have in common is the absolute focus on customization. Our customers get to decide the leather, the patina, the trims, the embossing and so on, in essence designing their own shoe while ensuring top quality. Most women genuinely appreciate that level of control.
What advice can you offer to women who want to start their own business?
Don’t take short cuts and be ready for unexpected bumps along the way. That said, stay true to your vision—it’s the only path to success.
Mixing patience with confidence—it’s tough, but when you figure out where the balance is for you, it all gets easier.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
In New York it’s almost impossible to separate work and life—every minute seems to consume both. But once you’ve figured out what’s most important to you, you’ll find the time for both. For me working out, doing yoga, running, going in the countryside is a great way to resource myself.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I’ve had incredibly important mentors in my own life, and I’ve tried to play that role with younger associates and employees. The thing to remember about mentors is that you feel their greatest influence far down the road. Mentors solve problem in the short term, but the lessons you learn and the wisdom you acquire affects every aspect of your life. I tell everyone I met, get a mentor, be a mentor.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I’ve always admired women who make their own way in the world: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde, and fashion icon and musician Carla Bruni, among many others. They’re all very different, yet they all make their mark in very positive ways.
What do you want Lareymondie to accomplish in the next year?
My primary goal for 2015 is to establish Lareymondie as an important startup that’s here to stay. Eventually, of course, I would like it to become the most prominent French footwear brand.