Nelissa Hilman, the Kuala Lumpur born designer had a successful career in the corporate world, when she decided a sudden career change. Her reason for this decision was, she wanted to do something different.
“I enrolled for a shoemaking course in Florence. I thought I’d give it a go, and if didn’t like it I could always return to my old job. That was in 2011. I have not looked back since,” she states.
On returning to Malaysia, she worked in a shoe factory for some time to get an insight about how shoes are produced in her country.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I first started my business. My friends and family are not from the fashion line,” she relates. “It was all by trial and error at the beginning. A lot of error, but somehow I managed.”
Presently Hilman has her own shoe boutique in Bangsar Village and her designs are also available online on her website (www.nelissahilman.com). Also she has showed her collection in local fashion weeks with other prominent designers.
She told “I wanted to focus on design and development when I started my business. To revive the artisanal aspect of the trade here. But for the first five years I have been busy with developing the brand.”
“In Malaysia, you need to get materials from other countries. So you could say that we are not so reliant on what you can find locally. We have also lost a lot of the artisans – the shoemakers.”
“The thing about shoes is most people don’t realize that they stand about six to eight hours in them. There is this saying, ‘You may carry the clothes, but it’s the shoes that carries you,’ ” Hilman concludes.