if you are a woman of a certain age, have a love affair with shoes but want comfort to boot, this post is for you. every once in awhile i have the great pleasure to introduce a woman of substance through my interview series over | under. today, i’m highlighting entrepreneur and founder of Adrian Allen Shoes – Gwen Allen. inspiration struck this dynamic woman after losing patience with the shoe market and the lack of stylish yet comfortable shoes. gwen then began to collaborate with footwear industry experts to create shoes that are feminine, fashionable, and wearable. don’t you love it?
gwen has lived in denver, colorado for much of her life and loves the active outdoor lifestyle the rocky mountain area offers. besides work and her loved ones, gwen is passionate about horses, greyhounds, international travel and food. sounds like my kind of gal! gwen also has an MBA from Indiana University – go hoosiers – and started her career in product development and marketing. all right, gang, are you ready to learn a little bit more about gwen and her company Adrian Allen? let’s go.
1) Gwen, are you over or under the age of 40?
2) Who inspires you the most in fashion? Anyone who stands out?
This will sound odd, but it is a brand called Ariat. They make horse riding
footwear and apparel (riding is one of my weekend hobbies). I’ve been buying
their merchandise for over 20 years, and Ariat items are always beautiful and
comfortable and functional.
3) Where does your inspiration come from?
Generally speaking, I’m very motivated to make a difference – and for Adrian Allen, that
difference is helping women be gorgeous as they age. That is what I want for myself,
and I found that there was not a footwear brand that was helping me do this. This
inspires me to make a difference for myself and more importantly, for other women who
are “of a certain age.”
4) How do you balance creativity with commerce?
I’ve had a business career for over 25 years, so I naturally gravitate towards commerce.
I love collaborating with creative people who make my vision come to life. A successful
company requires both excellent business skills and creative skills, plus a strong focus
on all employees on the customer.
5) Ocean, lake or pool?
Ocean – it is so fun to play in the waves. You are never too old to play!
6) What advice would you give your 20something self if you could?
Life passes by very quickly, so take some risks and make decisions that maximize your
happiness right now. Don’t settle for “just okay.” I learned these things after my 40
year old husband died of cancer a while back.
7) Do you have a motto?
Plan the work and work the plan
8) What do you think of first impressions?
Women are initially judged based on their appearance, and our appearance emanates to
a large degree from how good we feel about ourselves. A young girlfriend who is a stylist
taught me that if you feel great about what you are wearing, you will also look great. I
want women to feel fabulous about the shoes they are wearing so they will make great
9) Everyone has to start somewhere. What was your first job?
I had many jobs throughout high school and college…all of which weren’t at all fun but
which motivated me to do well in school so I could have a different type of job! My first
“career” job was after graduate school – I was a product manager at a company that
made baby products like carriers, high chairs, and car seats. Innovation was the
lifeblood of the company, and we worked in cross-functional teams to bring many new
products and product revisions to the market every year. Our products had to be both
functional and fashionable (have you noticed a theme here?!). I loved the five years that I
worked at that company.
10) What three words describe your current life?
Joyful, juggling, passionate
gwen, thanks so much for taking time from your busy schedule to stop by the blog! what do you think ladies? isn’t it wonderful to see how inspiration strikes at any time at any age? are you curious to see more shoe-spiration? then head on over to Adrian Allen Shoes and use code styleatacertainage to receive 20% off your purchase through Wednesday 10/18. don’t forget to let me know what you think!