Janan Leo, creator and founder of CocoRose London, talks to Renee Coppinger, about her passion for design, the BAFTAS, her entrepreneurial upbringing and Sir Richard Branson
Sir Richard Branson and his family are among those Congratulating Janan Leo, the petite, young shoe designer, who founded her company, CocoRose London, only three Years ago.
Janan is over-the-moon with pride that her foldable ballet pumps were Selected by BAFTA for the Goody Bags given to the A-list 300 Nominees’ and Presenters, at this year’s Orange BAFTA
British Film Academy Awards. It’s a real-life Cinderella story for the 29-year-old, who founded her Company only 3 years ago, and has still not given up her day job, Working for Sir Richard.
Lady Branson, Sir Richard’s wife, one of Janan’s biggest Fans, says,“ I wear Janan’s ballet pumps all the time, and bought the shoes to give as Christmas presents for all my girl friends.”
With so many fashion companies paying big bucks to get their designs on the backs and posh feet of film stars, it’s a credit to BAFTA that they chose instead a talented new kid on the block, whose designs they fell head-over-heels in love with. As we fashionistas know, everyone from Prada to Nine West do ballet pumps – and some companies do foldable ballet pumps. But CocoRose London’s concept is unique. Janan Leo has created a range of innovative, stylish, foldable ballet pumps – elegantly presented in a purse, with a hidden pocket – that holds a foldable, mini-shoulder-bag.
So, when your tootsies begin to ache, you simply slip off your stilettos, slip on a pair of CocoRose ballet shoes, and slide your high-heels, along with the dinky purse, into the chic shoulder-bag.
And, at an entry point of only £35, ($ 50) it’s hardly surprising that they have become a cult, adored by celebrities, models, journalists, yummy mummies, career girls, etc. who think they are ideal for work, travel and play.
Janan’s an inspirational role model to all young entrepreneurs. Half-Thai, half-Turkish, she was born into a family of entrepreneurs in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She moved to the UK to study Food Science at the University of Leeds, and still has not given up her day job as New Product Development for Virgin Trains. She founded CocoRose London in early 2007, and was determined to turn her idea into reality. With the blessing of Branson, she continued to work full-time, while also studying evenings and weekends at the London College of Fashion. She’s seen CocoRose London grow from being sold in weekend markets in East London, through direct sales via the website, and onto wholesale, selling in exclusive boutiques and department stores in the UK, Europe, South East Asia, Australia and the Middle East. “My designs combine the desire for style, functionality and comfort. The leather inner soles have added padding, in the form of cushioned foot-beds, and cushioned heels, which make them beautifully soft and comfortable,” she says. “The outer soles are thin enough so that the shoes fold neatly into their purse – but are thick and durable enough to wear all day.
The purse is chic enough to grace any event, and hidden in the back packet is a separate, mini satin bag, complete with shoulder-strap and button, designed for carrying the high-heels.” To date, Janan’s created six collections, taking inspiration from core fashion trends, always mixing it with her own degree of originality and quirkiness. She cleverly spotted a gap within the competitive British shoe market, turned her brainchild of an idea into a reality, and continues to increase brand awareness and sales by incorporating new concepts. “Turning my dream into reality, I realise how far I have journeyed, and how all my small steps are gradually building into giant leaps for CocoRose London. Being an entrepreneur has enabled me to meet and interact with other inspiration people, whom I would not had the change to meet otherwise,” she adds.
A delightful young charmer, with passion, real talent and drive, Janan is getting ready to launch in America. Hope that Michelle Obama, Victoria Beckham and other publicity loving mavens soon discover the pleasure of struttin’ their stuff in CocoRose London ballet pumps, when their stiletto soles begin to ache!
(For the latest Spring-Summer 2010 Collection, visit www.cocoroselondon.com). The shoes come in Petite (UK size 3-4, US size ), Regular, (UK size 5-6, US size ) and Grande (UK size 7-8, US size).