When Joyce Echols boards the big silver bird for Italy later this month, it won't be for an Italian Riviera vacation that one might expect of this sophisticated globetrotter. It will be a working trip for the stunning blonde, who at age 42 is jumping feet first into fashion design.
The dream of developing a sexy, sassy shoe line percolated for several years before Echols launched the company two years ago with business partner Cathy Neville. "I always knew that the timing needed to be right and I had to have all my ducks in a row," she says. "I personally had to be there from within to make it work."
Having expended a healthy dose of energy on the party scene, Echols said she was "looking for more of a focus and more meaning. I wanted to accomplish things that I can be proud of." And she wanted to set an example of living a meaningful life for her 9-year-old daughter, Cape.
"I like to think of them as a little rough and rowdy, yet metropolitan and vogue."
She delved into fashion courses at Houston Community College and did her research on shoe design in Italy. "I really respect shoes, there are so many elements that go into their design . . . I also see why shoes made in Italy cost so much."
Echols represents the creative side of the business, having developed 35 different styles, each playing off of her slogan "Designed in Texas. Made in Italy." The Texas theme runs throughout the collection with fashionably adapted bullet ends, barbed wire and a longhorn steer logo clearly setting the Joyce Echols line apart from the pack. One series of shoes includes a tiny holstered pistol.
As she says of the distinct genre of her shoes, "I like to think of them as a little rough and rowdy, yet metropolitan and vogue. I love to create combinations — blending classic, contemporary styles in an eclectic and edgy manner.” Her "Urban Cowboy" boot evokes a city slicker take on the western boot while the "Ranger" pump is decorated with a bandolero of bullets.
Styles include fetching platform pumps with 4-inch heels, evening shoes and boots. Costs range from $400 to $2,000 with each pair embellished with her Texas trinkets. Echols says that her shoes "are for the woman that is sophisticated and elegant but likes to have a little sass or something extra in her wardrobe."
Echols is also considering doing a smoking slipper for the gents, velvet for winter and linen for summer. Look for the longhorn logo on these. From there, she is considering a broader Joyce Echols brand offering leather jackets and belts, cuffs and over-sized necklaces.