After spending over 10 years designing shoes for the likes of Michael Kors and Stuart Weitzman--Layla-Joy Williams decided it was high time to step out on her own.
So in 2011, the native New Yorker officially launched her signature collection of footwear LAYLAJOY.
The line, which boasts on-trend designs and on-foot comfort, ranges from sassy studded and leopard print ballet flats to sleek motorcycle boots. And thankfully the shoes won't cost you an arm and a leg--retail prices start at $79 and top off at $300.
Williams has basically created the holy trinity of footwear: style, comfort and affordability. Amen!
The Huffington Post caught up with the beautiful and talented designer to chat about her eponymous collection and even got the scoop on some of her favorite things.
What is your design background?
Design is in my blood. As a child it wasn't uncommon to find me in a corner sketching. I was very quiet and observant and I suppose wanted to capture what I saw around me. That passion grew and developed as I got older and propelled me from a love of architecture--fostered at my high school--to a degree later on from Pratt Institute in Industrial Design.
How did you zero in on shoe design?
Shoe design, is what I became absolutely consumed with in my career. I've had the great fortune of working with Converse, Nina Shoes and the company BCNY International, where I designed for Michael Kors and Stuart Weitzman among many others.
Why launch your own footwear line?
Two things: a dream and a need. I dreamed of having the chance to express my creativity, intense curiosity and willingness to channel the unexpected into an original, cohesive and stylish piece. What makes The LAYLAJOY Collection even more unique, having achieved a level of experience in the field, was the realization that there was a need to create a line that was not only aesthetically appealing, but comfortable and well-priced. It is all too common to sacrifice comfort for style. That is not a sacrifice I am willing to make.
What inspires each collection?
The ultimate inspiration is the vibrancy of differing cultures and the visible expressions of it around us. In my travels I have discovered such a variety of themes and trends that I can't resist noting seminal elements and using them in my work. It's so important to stay attune to and allow the unique influences to stimulate one's passion for fashion! That's my approach to each collection, which is why it's novel, personal and original to the brand.
How would you describe your line in three words?
Contemporary. Comfortable. Chic.
What is your favorite style from the current spring/summer collection?
I love them all – in the way that ones’ offspring are all exceptional; however I have to say that the “Lauren”, with its snake and metallic studded ornamentation and generous ankle embellishment, is a real standout!
Any celebrity clients or stars you'd like to see in your shoes?
There are several women that I admire greatly and would love to see wearing my line. Iman, Oprah, Diane Sawyer, Angelina Jolie--just to name a few.
Do you have a favorite clothing designer?
I absolutely LOVE the French designers Catherine Malandrino and Barbara Bui. I will buy blindly from their collections! Second to West Indian women, the way French women so effortlessly put themselves together is the epitome of panache. It's perhaps even better when you mix the West Indian and French style together, as they do in the French Antilles. So Chic!
What are your must-have beauty products?
A super moisturizer, lip balm and flattering fragrance.
Who are your style inspirations?
I have many! I can easily and honestly tell you that Natalie Massenet, Angela Ahrendts, Maureen Chiquet and Tamara Mellon are all women who have changed the landscape of fashion. They have top of the line, industry-changing operations, storied careers and an impeccable sense of taste and of delivering quality product to consumers season after season.
Best style advice you've ever been given?
"Keep it simple and dazzle 'em, Honey!"
Here's a look at our favorite styles from the Spring/Summer 2012 collection.