We visited Nelissa Hilman’s shoe making factory in the heart of Kuala Lumpur recently as she shared the journey of her self-titled shoe brand and what is it like to #walkinnelly ; as they said ‘every shoes have their own story…’
1. Tell us about yourself and the journey of your career. In 2011, I decided to pursue shoemaking at the POLIMODA Fashion Institute in Florence, Italy. The opportunity opened my insights to the immense world of art and fashion. Combining my passion for science (I was then a chemical engineer!) and arts, I established my namesake footwear label, Nelissa Hilman in 2012.
2. Tell us about a day in the life of Nelissa Hilman. Running all over town in my NH – managing a small-knit and engaging team in day-to-day operations from merchandising, marketing, social media, retail, design, buying and production – very comfortable working behind-the-scenes and somedays I’ll swing by the shoe factory to work on samples and check-up on production.
3. Describe your personal fashion aesthetic and how much it relates to your brand. Always been a white tee (shirt) and jeans sorta person – minimalist and structured – no fuss and easy to move-in, not afraid of occasional pop of colors (from time to time) and small detailing that stands out is always a plus.
4. Walk us through your design process… Inspiration is everywhere and yet it depends where and how you look at things and where you’re taking it to. For me and NH, we’re influenced largely by the materials we work with – creatively by artworks/paintings (love sonia delaunay’s body of work) or sculpture (big fan of calder) and sometimes taking references from architecture, photography and women on the streets. Design sketches to sampling to production to shop floor may take anywhere between 4 to 6 months – and we come out with capsules/drops every 6 weeks or so.
5. What do you do when you’re not working? I love my sleep a lot. I enjoy reading (fashion magazines to really boring management books) and slowly getting hooked on podcast (self-help, management that sort). Travel has been for work so far, but yeah.
6. Any clues as to what is in store for Nelissa Hilman in 2017? A few surprises in-store..opening of our first store. our pop-up is currently running at ground floor in BV2. Also exploring exciting collaborations.. a few plans are lined up for the year.
7. Would you consider designing other items beside footwear? Absolutely, we are working on our first range of accessories – and look forward to expand our designs and offerings. We’ll reveal more in due time.
8. What’s one thing about running a fashion design/shoe business that took you by surprise? The amount of energy and focus that is required – this year’s resolution is to work on these two. Also the bigger the dream the more important the team! I thank and love my team for this.
9. On a life well-lived, what is your personal mantra or motto that you live by?
What would you do if you know you wouldn’t fail. I think it’s from Robin Sharma.
Photography by: Syazwan Asyraf @syzwnasyrf