A shoe label that declares it will “never sell a heel” is making a bold statement, especially when that label is fashion forward, young on the scene and based in Los Angeles.
Mara & Mine’s founders, Tamie Ingham and Jasmine Yarbrough from Sydney, have made this promise, confident in the endurance of their signature slipper-inspired shoe. In just over a year, the luxe slippers have become a highly coveted accessory, worn by the likes of Cara Delevingne and Julianne Hough.
This is no ordinary slipper. It is a stylised take (think skull and skeleton motifs) on the ubiquitous, home slip-on. They are beautifully designed with embellishments such as embroidery and European finishes and carry a price tag upwards of $300.
Ingham and Yarbrough, who met in Sydney, have been best friends for more than eight years. They also live together, run the business together and travel whenever they can… yes, together. In fact, it was on a holiday along Italy’s Amalfi Coast when their love for the flat shoe was first realised.
“We were amazed at how effortlessly stylish and glamorous the Italian women looked in their flats – regardless of the time of day or occasion. We actually felt pretty silly teetering down the cobblestone streets in our heels,” says Yarbrough.
With equally successful fashion careers (Ingham was a stylist, Yarbrough a model) the idea to start a shoe company didn’t exactly fly out of left field. Here were two fashionable, confident young women looking for a project or business that they could work on together.
Being a stylist, Ingham knew the importance of a comfortable shoe while Yarbrough’s former career called for a shoe that was stylish, yet good for travel. The slipper-style loafers were the perfect compromise and the two – perhaps unwittingly – have tapped into the zeitgeist with their modern take.
Before launching, the two travelled to Portugal where they absorbed all they could about shoe manufacture, from sole construction, leather, lining and how best to work with local artisans. The dedication to quality is evident when you see the shoes up close, as is the strong European influence.
After researching and planning their launch since 2010, Mara & Mine were in stores for summer 2012, and their skeleton-motif slippers (the result of a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico) became a big hit.
For now, the growing footwear brand has committed to two seasonal collections a year of luxe slippers and a wide-range of leather and fabric sandals, selling from their online shop and a growing number of global designer retail spots. They are also looking at ways they can expand the business. “We recently launched a bespoke sideline where clients can customise their slippers with logos or monograms,” says Ingham. “It’s a stylish way to personalise your shoes.”
Despite the occasional yearning for family, Los Angeles is very much home now, the two clearly captivated by the dynamic, urban, melting-pot of the city. Plus, it’s proving to be a great base for a fashion brand, with accessible manufacture and huge wholesaling numbers.
Mara and Mine shoes are stocked at Tuchuzy, For Artists Only and Robby Ingham in Sydney and Green With Envy in Melbourne. See the website for more stockists in Australia and the US.