Read in: Nederlands
They’ll make your legs look longer and leaner, they’ll make you walk more upright and, according to Juliette de Vries, they’ll even change the way you speak: that’s what good pumps can do to a woman. But we all know the troubles: pangs of pain in the ball of your foot, toes that feel crammed and feet that are totally numb after a night out… O, perfect pump, where were you all this time?
Juliette de Vries (61) already had an impressive career in hospitality behind her when she started shoe brand Feraggio – with just one pump shoe in the whole product range. We meet up at Brasserie Paardenburg in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel, a stone’s throw away from her home and office. Expecting a woman click-clacking her way to us on high heels, we are very surprised when she comes walking in.
Feraggio is special
Juliette appears wearing a pair of white All Stars. White blouse, nice pair of jeans, razor-sharp look, gift of the gab. “Oh yeah, sneakers today. A good pump can empower a woman but that’s not always necessary. When I arrive somewhere, there’s a lot of woman entering the scene. And I hate heels that click-clack so loudly. Feraggio heels have a little rubber sole so you won’t hear them at all.” A silent heel, that’s just one of the many good points of the pump she launched well over a year ago.
Four years ago when Juliette said goodbye to her company Promotion Partners, an agency in flexible staffing and hostess services, she desperately needed a rest and more free time. She swore to never start her own company again.
“Well, I was wrong,” she says drily. “The point is: whenever I start something, I’ll do it thoroughly and I like thinking big. Feraggio is not just a means for her to keep boredom at bay. It is a real company, backed by serious investment and with a large team working 24/7 to make it successful. The advantage of a ‘second tour of duty’ is that one doesn’t get too nervous when plan A fails. I love this pioneering phase but it will definitely be grandma’s last trick: I really underestimated the amount of work a business like this involves.”
Shoe designer Jan Jansen
Juliette spent many years searching for the perfect pair of pumps: elegant shoes with a nice heel she could walk on all day without feeling any pain. But she couldn’t find them. “So I thought: well, I’ll just have to make them myself then. A kind of Pippi Longstocking reflex: ‘I’ve never done this before, but I’m sure I’ll manage’. But I’m not a fashionista and I’d never been inside a factory, let alone that I knew anything about production or retail. I went to the best leather fair in Italy but I couldn’t even distinguish goatskin from pigskin leather. Only the word vitello rang a bell… because of vitello tonnato, haha!”
“I studied numerous designs to try to find the perfect shoe and then I had a lot of samples made. After a few weeks Jan Jansen, Holland’s most famous shoe designer, called and asked if perhaps I could use his expert opinion. That was magnificent because this man knows everything about shoes and their manufacturing techniques. Together we went through every tiny detail of my design. After two long years we were finally ready to present the perfect pump: the Feraggio!”
Why is Feraggio special?
The key question is: what makes the Feraggio pump, with its 365 euro price tag, so special? “Our pumps are fitted with a soft insole with memory foam. Pain in the foot is caused by pressure on the ball of the foot, blocking the blood circulation. The memory foam springs back into position and makes the blood flow again, allowing you to walk and stand much longer without any pain. There is only one model, in suede, in a timeless design and in two different heel heights: 3 and 4 inches.”
‘You’re sold once you realize how gorgeous and comfortable these shoes are’
“These shoes are always available and never go on sale. The heel has a non-slip surface and the tip of the outsole is fitted with a piece of iron. All these aspects together we call heelability. Anyone can wear these pumps and because of the clever design they are comfortable for all types of feet. Sizes range from EU size 35 to 42 (US: 4 to 9, UK: 3 to 8), including all half sizes.”
During the production and manufacturing process Juliette had to fight a lot of conventions. “I had certain things in mind and then people simply said: ‘That’s impossible. Welcome to the crazy world of shoes, but this is how we do it’. And then I replied: ‘Listen: my team was not trained in the shoe business, we’re going to do it differently!” And so we did.
Men like Feraggio
‘It’s extraordinary that 35% of the online orders are placed by men’
The name Feraggio was coined by Juliette’s former business partner, Patricia Schagen. “It doesn’t mean anything. We were looking for an international name that sounded nice and referred to luxury and Italian design. With Feraggio I focus on the international market, mainly the US – the market in affordable luxury is very big there and they have a real dresses-and-skirts culture. And the Middle East and England are very important as well, but these days we ship Feraggios to all corners of the world. It’s pretty extraordinary that 35% of the online orders are placed by men. They understand our product: this model was here 100 years ago and it will still be here in a 100 years’ time.”
“Most people usually start with a pair of black shoes and then buy other colours later. You’re sold once you realize how gorgeous and comfortable they are. Feraggio pumps easily combine with casual wear, a party dress or business attire. A pair of pumps in scarlet red or lemon yellow under a formal workplace outfit, that’s what makes life a bit more fun! The original idea was to start with only 4 colours. Well, that plan failed – our customers can now choose from 24 different colours.”
Feraggio shoe box
Not only the shoe but also the shoe box excels in usability and great design. It has a pull-out drawer and a window for a picture of its content. The boxes are big enough for men’s shoes and are fitted with a non-slip surface on the outside, enabling her customers to build a wonderful shoe cabinet. Because of the immense demand Juliette now also sells shoe boxes. Yes, that’s right: just the box, without any shoes in them – an idea that can only originate from the practical brain of a woman. A woman thinking out of the box.
Feraggio pumps are online available and in all PAUW shops.
The warehouse at Amstelkade 17 in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel is open on Thursdays and Fridays from 10 am till noon.
Read in: Nederlands