I write this on the train back to Rome after a long day at the factory. Trains provide the perfect vehicle to sit and reflect! After a 10-hour day working with my team, sourcing leathers, going to the factory to celebrate the shipment for SS17 and plan out our new SS18 collection, I am exhausted, but happy. Honestly, this may be the happiest I’ve felt since I started this journey of building a shoe company. Today did not start out particularly well. I was unable to sleep last night, and I had allowed only one day (yes, it is apparent how crazy I can be) to accomplish everything planned for this trip. After an 8am breakfast with my production manager, we drove 45 minutes to a tannery to start buying leathers for next spring’s collection. Once we arrived, we were told that no one was available to assist us. This was incredibly frustrating, but we had to find a way to move forward. We ended up finding a leather “store” or agent, who sources leathers from multiple tanneries. Not only did they have the leathers we were looking for, but the prices and availability were better than the tannery that wouldn’t let us in! It ended up saving us considerable time, as we had planned on visiting 3 tanneries today. Without question, executing my vision of better footwear has been the most difficult challenge I have ever undertaken. However, I face each obstacle head on. I have always enjoyed changing people’s minds about a set belief system. Shoe and insole construction, I convinced myself, would be another challenge whereby I would achieve that satisfaction. The reality is, this journey has brought me to my knees at times. A good friend of mine recently ran the NYC Marathon for the first time. I was there to meet her at the finish line and help her through her recovery that evening. As she lay in her bed, ice bags on both legs, she told me that the 59th St Bridge, with head winds and an uphill climb, had just about brought her to her knees. I told her this journey was like my 59th bridge. It has brought me to my knees like no other challenge I have faced. The thing that keeps me moving forward is the fact that my shoes are more than footwear. They represent the choices that, I believe, women need to make. It is time women invest in themselves. The choices we make in today’s footwear may affect our health and well being for years to come. Women deserve better and it is my mission to provide them. My persistence, or more accurately, my stubbornness, has won out so far. Although it is finally in sight, I have not yet crossed the finish line to success. In the meantime, I had a very satisfying trip, topped off with a delicious piece of chocolate.