Jennifer Chamandi Boghossian is a woman of many talents. An economist, avid linguist, fierce businesswoman, and doting mother – there’s nothing the British footwear designer cannot do. And that’s exactly why her brand’s early success came as no surprise. Launched in October 2016, it has already become a footwear favorite of the likes of Amal Clooney and Bella Hadid.
Ahead of her pop-up store in London’s Harrods this September, the multi-talented designer speaks exclusively with Savoir Flair about her decision to turn her love for shoes into a full-time job and what the future holds for the Jennifer Chamandi label. Browse the gallery to learn nine interesting facts about the brand, below.
Jennifer Chamandi footwear is now available to buy at Browns Fashion.
Before footwear, there was finance.
Before starting her namesake footwear brand, Chamandi had a very successful career in the banking industry, which she decided to give up in order to focus on her childhood dream. “I’ve had a passion for shoes ever since I was a child, but I knew that, if I wanted to have my own brand, I had to develop a firm understanding of business,” she tells Savoir Flair. “I studied at the London School of Economics, which kickstarted my seven-year career in banking. It gave me discipline and taught me how to work under pressure.”
The shoes are designed in London, made in Italy, but inspired by France.
Jennifer Chamandi has lived in London for the past 13 years, but when it came to establishing a brand DNA, the designer drew on inspiration from France. “In French, a stiletto is called talon aiguille, translating to ‘needle heel’, which inspired my signature detail. I worked alongside an artisanal atelier in Milan for 18 months to develop this unique concept, and the result is the delicate gold-plated carving inlaid into each heel.”
It's a family affair.
Jennifer Chamandi shoes are made in a family-run atelier in Italy. “The atelier that I work with has become like my own family. Every member is involved in the production process, and they’re all as passionate about my brand as I am, which can be felt in every stitch and every nail. This makes a world of difference – each shoe is made with love and care.”
The bond is such that her first-ever shoe – the ‘Lorenzo’ – was named after her manufacturer. “He brought my shoes to life. The ‘Lorenzo’ is a classic stiletto pump and the original needle heel. He believed in me and my concept from the very start and, for that, I am forever grateful to him,” Chamandi reveals.
She studied in heels.
Chamandi’s love for shoes started at a young age, and it was clear from the beginning that she took her passion seriously. “I can remember wearing my mother’s shoes whilst revising for my exams when I was little, saying, ‘I study better in heels!’ I must have been 16 or 17 years old when my mum bought me my first pair of heels. I remember them very well: black nappa open-toe sandals, 10cm in height. I couldn’t believe she was allowing me to wear them out!”
She boasts quite the fan base.
Bella Hadid, Amal Clooney, and actress Laura Haddock are among some of the brand’s biggest fans. “I’m a huge admirer of these women, and I am so humbled to have seen my shoes on them,” says Chamandi. “They all represent the Jennifer Chamandi woman – strong, hardworking, feminine, and someone who dresses entirely for herself.”
She's a multi-talented multi-linguist.
Chamandi is an avid linguist, speaking fluent English, French, Arabic, and, most recently, Italian, which she learnt as part of the process of launching her brand. “I knew that, to present my concept with credibility to the people producing my shoes and negotiate with suppliers, I had to do it in Italian,” she recalls. “I took intensive lessons every day for four months before presenting my business plan to my manufacturer. I made so many mistakes, blending French and English with Italian, but he saw how serious and determined I was and took me on board!”
You can take the girl out of Lebanon...
Her Lebanese heritage is extremely important to Chamandi, and so is finding a way to infuse it into her brand.
“I go back to Beirut every year to visit my family and recharge. I also travel yearly to the UAE, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia with my husband, where I have been lucky enough to meet inspiring women with such amazing taste. Middle Eastern women have such sophistication, and they seek products that are classic but have unique qualities and a strong character. This is the ethos of my brand. A presence in the Middle East would hold sentimental value for me,” says Chamandi.
She's got her hands full.
Chamandi launched her brand, moved homes, and gave birth to twin baby girls all within the same month. Talking about juggling motherhood and business, she says, “It has taught me to adapt quickly and that it’s okay to delegate. Insisting on doing everything alone means you will either fail or crack. It’s hectic, but I am very lucky to have the support of amazing people around me. Sometimes, I feel guilty for not spending every minute with my girls, but I hope that my work will make them proud, inspiring them to follow their own passions and working hard to fulfill them.”
Her future is bright.
The last year has been an extremely successful one for the brand, but this is just the beginning. Chamandi is currently preparing for a pop-up in London’s Harrods in September and adds, “Browns is launching my third collection in September, and I am currently prototyping new designs for next year, which include flats. The ‘eye of the needle’ will still be embedded into each heel, which is very challenging, but will give a new dimension to flat shoes. Also, expect the ‘Lorenzo’, ‘Rolando’, and ‘Vittorio’ shoes to travel to Asia and the Middle East – but it’s all a surprise for 2018.”