Mallory Musante-Founder, Owner And Lead Designer Of Musa
Custom, Hand Painted Women's Leather Shoes For Any Occasion - Unique Enough To Help Women Stand Out From The Crowd
With a love and appreciation for art and shoes, Mallory Musante began Musa in order to provide the opportunity for everyone to have a unique item in their wardrobe that reflects their personal style. Musa hand paints women’s leather shoes to create wearable pieces of art that allow women to express themselves all the way down to their shoes.
These looks are designed to be fashion staples in your wardrobe. She wants you to be able to wear them from work to a night out on the town or to any other occasion you may have.
It is important for your clothes to reflect your personality and style, so why not do the same with your shoes? Musante’s philosophy is that everyone should have a pair of shoes that perfectly reflect their personal style and it is her goal to provide you with these shoes.
What is the story behind your company?
I originally wanted to be a shoe designer making custom, handmade shoes. I took a 5-day class in San Francisco with a London-based accessory school, Prescott and Mackay, to learn how to hand make a pair of women’s pumps. After taking the class, I realized that it wasn’t feasible to hand make custom shoes for women because the materials are extremely difficult to find and sometimes very costly.
Then I met the owner of JGoods, a customization company that hand paints sneakers, at the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization National Conference in Chicago in 2008. This sparked my interest and I wanted to know if there were hand painted shoes for women. I looked everywhere and only found a few different options that targeted very specific styles of women.
Since I’ve always painted, I wanted to try painting a pair of women’s pumps. I instantly fell in love and so did all my friends and family. So in 2009, I decided to start Musa by doing custom pairs of shoes and I have now expanded into creating my own line of Musa Signature Looks.
What makes Musa unique?
In the footwear industry, painting on shoes is a fairly new concept. There are quite a few options for men and women that want hand painted sneakers but hand painted women’s dress shoes are scarce. And the few companies that provide hand painted women’s shoes were extremely specific in who they marketed their shoes to. The shoes are pretty specific in the sense that you could only wear them for certain occasions.
I wanted Musa to provide women with the option to wear their shoes for any occasion and with any outfit. They are unique enough to help women stand out from the crowd but not too crazy were they can only wear them for certain occasions.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
I find inspiration everywhere. I could find inspiration in a piece of jewelry to something in nature to a piece of artwork….really anywhere. I always keep my eyes open and am constantly writing down ideas for designs. The best part about painting shoes is that if your vision isn’t coming out the way you want as you are painting then it is very easy to transform it into what you want.
What has been the most exciting part of starting your own business?
Creating something that is all my own. I love the idea that I started with an idea and I have now built it into a business. It is the same as the shoes I create. I start with plain black shoes and transform them into something completely different to create a pair of shoes that are unique and someone’s very own. I love seeing my vision come alive for both my company and the shoes I paint. There is probably nothing more satisfying or exciting to me.
What is your vision for Musa in the future?
In the future, I’d love to bring on other artists to provide clients different perspectives and aesthetics to choose from.
I’d also like to open my own studio space. I’d like it to be half a workspace where I can paint and half a store to showcase my Musa Signature Looks. I’d also like to have extra space for other independent artists to come in to use. Not all artists can afford to have their own studio to work in so I’d like to have space available for them to book so they can come in for an hour or two or however long they need to work. I’d also love to allow them to sell their artwork in the store part of the studio as well. I know it can be difficult as you start out and I’d love to be able to help artists of all kinds get their foot in the door.
What is your biggest piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Be patient but persistent. There are a lot of ups and downs when you are first starting out so it is really important to be patient. I had so many delays and obstacles come up that I simply could not control so I really had be flexible. You can’t give up when an obstacle is put in your place. Be flexible and innovative to solve any problems that arise. Find something else to focus your time on while you wait on delays that are out of your control. Trust me, being patient and persistent definitely pays off. Once something positive happens for you, you will know that all the difficult times were well worth it!