Truddy Cheung, 33, is the Creative Director of Mileno Shoes Australia. The wife of business partner Kenneth Tang and mother of two and a half year old, Gemma, is responsible for all things creative within the company which they started together in November 2004. Truddy’s day-to-day jobs include sourcing fabrics, designing shoes, marketing and visual merchandising.
For 10 years prior to starting the Australian leg of the Mileno shoe brand, Truddy worked as an architect in Hong Kong, UK and Sydney. Truddy’s background in residential and retail architecture meant that her talent for creative drawing and construction rolled easily into her job at Mileno. Saying this, she still completed a 3 month shoe-making course at The London College of Fashion in 2001.
The decision to set up the Mileno shoes brand in Australia came after the husband and wife team considered that their current jobs were not going to keep them motivated for years to come. Soon after they looked into the Australian shoe market and identified a niche for high quality, stylish ladies shoes with everyday comfort – Mileno seemed the perfect fit.
B&L: Have you always had a passion for shoes?
Truddy: Yes, I always wanted to find nice shoes that didn’t hurt.
B&L: What makes Mileno shoes different?
Truddy: Our approach to shoes is to make them fashionable and wearable. We put glamour and glitz on wearable heels.
B&L: Where do you get your inspiration?
Truddy: From seeing different people’s fashion sense from around the globe and from top designers that dare to be different.
B&L: Have you always been creative and interested in fashion?
Truddy: I have always been creative in my previous profession as an architect, but now it’s all about shoes and fashion.
B&L: Which Mileno shoes are your favourites? Do you prefer flats or heels?
Truddy: My favourite Mileno shoes so far are; Robot, Frye, Attend, Bewitched…the list goes on. I prefer flats or small heels, but high heels work magic on any outfit.
B&L: How do you successfully juggle motherhood and running a business?
Truddy: I feel I’m only managing OK; it’s a skill to have and need to learn when and where to compromise. You can’t have everything so something’s got to give.
B&L: How do you like to relax?
Truddy: Go to cinema, watch a movie, have drinks with friends and sit back and listen to others talk (that takes my mind off work!).
B&L: What has been your greatest achievement?
Truddy: Apart from being a mum, in terms of my business my greatest achievement is to create a new shoe brand from
head to toe, i.e. from shoe ranges to marketing to shop fit-out to packaging. It’s like having another child.
B&L: Who were your role models growing up?
Truddy: Mum and Dad. They were always assertive in everything they did. That gave me confidence to walk down this
B&L: What is it like working so closely with your husband?
Truddy: It’s a steep learning curve and it’s not for the light hearted. However it also builds a much stronger bond between us.
B&L: What shoe trends do you think we will see?
Truddy: In the coming winter, lots of cool grey colours and warm browns on almond toe shape boots and easy-to-wear
heels. Next summer is still about bright patents and lots of embellishments everywhere.
B&L: How does it feel being the Official Fashion Footwear Supplier to the 2008 Australian Olympic Team?
Truddy: It feels great to be part of such an international event. Sometimes it’s beyond belief that being such a young business we could be involved with the Olympics.
B&L: What’s next for Mileno shoes?
Truddy: The ranges of Mileno Shoes are evolving constantly to offer the variety to different people for different occasions. The plan is for Mileno shoes to be available from cosmopolitan cities to regional towns in Australia.
B&L: Where can we buy your range?
Truddy: Part of the current summer range is available at Myer’s Sydney and Melbourne city stores and at various boutiques. Check out our stockist list on www.mileno.com.au.
B&L: What does being a woman mean to you?
Truddy: In terms of work, being a woman means I understand my customers, how they dress and think, and how we all juggle work and family and still have to look the part and be in tuned with the trends. In personal terms, being a woman makes me very accepting, understanding of the good and bad things that happen in life, but can still go through the emotional roller-coaster for the most trivial things!
Please visit www.mileno.com.au for more information