Interview to Israel in Prestize Magazine
Israel, what is your story?
It all started in the Netherlands, where I met my wife Elena Gasulla. We worked in international corporations, but in our spare time, we were constantly thinking about running our own business in the fashion sector. Elena got a better job in Indonesia, so we spent the last 3 years there. For me, as a photographer, Asia has proved to be a great place to pursue a passion. We decided to visit this continent, but due to the demands of my wife’s work, I did half of these trips alone. Additionally to Indonesia, I also visited India, Mongolia, South Korea, Thailand and China. I discovered how people live, what they eat, and their culture. India impressed me through its colors, patterns and textiles. The same was true in other countries.
Why did you decide to make footwear?
Our travels inspired us to collect textiles that later became part of our shoes. I walked with a backpack, so I could only bring a few meters of each. Step by step we created a great collection of designs from many countries, regions and cultures. We decided to create something that would show the history of these places. In the meantime, my wife undertook her MBA studies and had to write a master’s thesis for which she developed a business plan for our shoe business idea – we decided to design shoes because we both love it. I took a training on hand-crafting shoes from scratch. Creating the first pair took me 2 weeks. It is a very complicated process and it made me develop a great respect for artisans who make handmade shoes. After months of preparation we were ready to release our first limited edition collection of Liebre Style.
How did you get to Szczecin?
We chose this city because of its proximity to our potential customers: Scandinavians, Germans, Belgians, Dutch or Poles. Our adventure with shoes in Szczecin started during the finals of The Tall Ships Races. This was our first contact with the international market. We did not expect to sell anything – we just wanted to get to know the reactions of people. Reception was extremely positive! People were fascinated with the colors, patterns, textures of our designs, and listened to the history of each pair of shoes. Our stand was visited by about 150 people a day – we are very satisfied.
They are unique shoes and just a little extravagant. They attract the attention of artists and hipsters, ladies and gentlemen, travel lovers… We decided to create 2 lines: the elegant Oxford and the more comfortable and casual Derby. Both are made of great quality Italian leather, which we combine with our textiles. We want people to feel free in them, to experience adventures, to remember the beauty of the world. Hopefully the story or our shoes will inspire our customers to discover and release their creativity. Most of the shoes available on the market are black, gray or brown and look very serious. Our shoes help break the routine. We sell them online, however we love the contact with our customers whenever is possible. We like to advise them and share with them the history of our shoes.
Are you planning to settle in Szczecin?
This is a good question (laughs). We have been here for only 10 months. Elena works in Goleniów, she gives me many ideas, but I design the shoes myself. Szczecin is very close to Berlin. Our next step could be to open a store in Berlin, but we wouldn’t like to move out there. We like Szczecin because of its tranquility and beautiful architecture. We like its old town and the city center, and to visit the many places where the history still beats. So far, we are not planning any changes.
What is your next wish?
Bigger product portfolio. We would like to create new models of shoes, but it would also be interesting to produce unique accessories such as socks or belts.