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This is the Shoe Stories feature we have been hopping, wishing, waiting, and praying for. A feature with a real shoe designer inclusive of an indelible collection {she has a well curated signature look that is clean, earthy, muted, and minimalist in approach}. Much to our surprise, we were blessed with being introduced to Mia Wright-Ross – THE Designer of Footwear and Accessories for Tibi. She RUNS the department. She IS the HSIC {Head Shoe in Charge}. So basically, you’re going to get this black girl magic today and every day. Mia Wright-Ross is not only the HSIC for Tibi, she also produces her own signature collection titled, MWR Collection which features customized leather goods. Hailing from Richmond, VA, Mia is an artisans artists. Well what does that mean you say? Let me explain. Having attended art school since middle school, Mia’s been a creative FOREVA! High School is where she honed in on her artistry and focused predominantly on mixed media, but during her junior year that would all change. Mia says she had an epiphany over the summer and knew she needed to do fashion, period. The first dress she ever made was a Tiffany blue from a Vogue pattern, which she hated because she’s not a conformist. The pattern was too regimented, too structured. Ms. Mia pushed through and stole a sheet from her grandmother’s house {hey you gotta do what you gotta do} draped it and painted all over it. She had no idea what she was doing, how to drape, or let alone knew what draping was. But through this process, she realized she hated patterns and puzzle pieces and loved the flow of things. A true homage to how she lives her life. She went back to school that fall refusing to do anything other than fashion and the head of the program Ms. Lee Hanchey purchased 3-4 mannequins just for her, the rest is history.

Mia attended Parsons and had another ‘aha’ moment her junior year {see the pattern here}. She decided shoes were her story. She had always drawn accessories with her clothing pieces and because her mom is a bag girl, she had the fondest memories of accessory shopping. She signed up for shoe classes and was taught by Howard Davis whom she describes as “a wonderful little black man who looks like a mad scientist and only keeps your shoes if he likes you; he might not remember your name, but he knows your work.” Mia has worked for the likes of Calvin Klein where she started as an intern {with the help of an introduction via Howard Davis} and Phillip Lim where she ‘sharpened iron with iron’ and got the best training in the business {fun fact: she was actually turned down for the job at first, but her headhunter suggested re-applying. She did et voila. BTW Phillip she loves you! And her former manager}; She’s worked on footwear for Kohl’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, and all of the designer collaborations with Target – someone say Altuzarra; She a made dress out of spoons that is now featured at Gallery 5 in Richmond, V; Her senior collection was featured in the windows at Saks Fifth Avenue and she was entered to be considered as Designer of the year. And now, she works at Tibi, all while maintaining her own fashion collection, MWR.  She believes in wasting no time. Get into work, do what you need to do, and leave so you can focus on your passion – this is how she does it. Ladies and gents, Mia is a legend in the making. A force to be reckoned with.

From The Bottom Up!™: Shoes are….

MWR: It’s a feeling. Its hard to describe because it’s a moment or feeling I’m going for. A higher heel can be “ooh I’m giving sex” and a lower heel will be “oh I’m giving sex at work.” It really depends on sexy or casual I’m going for. It’s a feeling.

FTBUP!™: Whose shoe closet would you love to raid?

MWR: Solange. Duh! The entire closet. And Iris Apfel.

FTBUP!™: Your style in three words…

MWR: Afro-Samurai. I’m very earthy and natural. Even my line MWR is a very spiritual process for me and very natural. And then there’s this Asian influence that’s so very subconscious and I interject into my life. I wear kimonos and large draped attire all the times. Basically, I’m a chief of an African village, but I have an Asian bae.

FTBUP!™: If your shoes could talk, what would they say?

MWR: Move bitch.

FTBUP!™: If you were a shoe, your style would be….

MWR: Its got to be strappy. I’m not really into closed toe shoes unless they’re sneakers of course. But, if Schiaparelli came back and decided she wanted to make shoes with a crazy heel – similar to the way she did hats – those would be my shoes with very skinny straps, and a barely there upper {for those of us not familiar with the technical shoe jargon, the ‘upper’ is the portion of your shoe that you put your foot in – duh, but just in case}. I buy a shoe for its construction {heel/base of the shoe}; essentially that’s what you’re paying for.

FTBUP!™: A law has been passed prohibiting women from wearing heels, what would you do?

MWR: What the hell. Where we living at? We moving! I’m not living there. Where are we going?

FTBUP!™: What’s your advice to making it in the shoe game?

MWR: You have to love it. You have to love it on a human level – like little parts of you die without it. It has to be a creation thing. It can’t just be “oh I like shoes and clothes.”. It has to be connected to you knowing you’re going to make something beautiful for someone. A lot of that doesn’t exist anymore in fashion. Too much is being remade and not enough creativity happening that would give you that feeling. Your product needs to have spirit of its own. It takes time and patience to be in this business and to be a creator. And you can’t get married to it, you can’t let it break you down. You have to love the process and love how human it makes you feel.

FTBUP!™: Tell me about MWR…

MWR: MWR started when I graduated Parsons in 2011. We do custom orders. I have a bit of inventory for my bags, but most everything is made to order. My mother comes up and helps me. We source everything in New York and VA. I also have a skincare company with my mom. I’m working with a 3-D printer for customization on the hardware and other great things that were once done with leather. Its a very exclusive and luxurious brand. The corded portion of my bags MUST be hand done. It’s impossible to get it done in the factory. I want to make sure people feel that my product was made with love and in a good space. I want to transfer love. I want to know who’s making my products which is hard nowadays, so I make sure to pour myself into every piece I create. I want to know what energy is around them? Are they happy? Are they positive? What energy are they putting into the product I’m buying. So I make sure my process is one of positivity and spiritual. I want to be human with my experience. We are online and you can order or place an order for custom item. I do a lot of cases for musicians for their instruments and I don’t make more than 10 pieces, because everything is customized.

Flash Round

Rihanna or Beyoncé? Beyoncé

Sophia Webster or Charlotte Olympia? Sophia Webster

Tokyo or London? London

Get into her shoe story…

Dancing on tables…

Click your heels three times and you’ll be home…

Introducing…

MWR Collection…

Bag lady…

Muted…

Simple luxuries…

Your favorite designers, favorite designer…

You don’t have these…

Curated by the curator…

Working day and night…

Joy…

The process of inspiration…

Clogged out…

Racks…

Ruffles…

A woman of thought…

Hannn…

The process of creation…

Chopped, cut, and screwed…

Spotlight…

Perspective…

On my journey…

To keep up with Mia, you can follow her at @MWRcollection on Instagram, Snapchat and follow the @tibi IG page to see her shoe designs.

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