Recognising her enthusiasm for shoes at the young age of five, Meghan Cleary turned in her marketing exec. position on Wall Street to pursue her passion—which over the past several years has dubbed her as an international expert on all things shoes. With two books, her own lines of shoes and multiple gigs contributing for magazines, morning shows, and on the red carpet, Miss Meghan tells us how she turned her love of shoes into a full-fledged career.
When did you first discover your passion for shoes?
I was 5. I fell in love with a pair of baby blue wedge espadrille sandals with embroidery. I don’t think I could have articulated it at the time, but what I was thinking was that if I got to wear those shoes, I would somehow be different, transformed, that life would be suddenly bigger, more perfect, or exciting in some way. It was a very visceral feeling.
How did you go from recognising this passion to becoming a shoe authority?
My shoe obsession came to the attention of my literary agent in NYC. When she found out how obsessed I was about shoes, she asked me to write a book about it. At the time, I was like, oh that’s just my crazy little obsession, and she really encouraged me. She pointed out that people who are passionate about something usually have a lot of great creative energy that translates well on the page.
At the time, I was a marketing consultant on Wall Street. While I was writing the book and after the book was done, I decided to go for it and just learn every single thing I could learn about footwear. My book didn’t come out for 18 months after I turned it in to my publisher, but I threw myself into shoemaking classes, interviewing designers, writing for Marie Claire and Time Out NYC on new shoe designers and breaking trends to the market.
I appeared on a show called SAVVY on WE as the shoe expert with tips and tricks, I learned about footwear manufacturers, footwear accessories, manufacturing and production, design, sat in designer’s studios, I studied market trends, and just let my curiosity drive me to learn everything I could about footwear from every angle. Then I started appearing on even more TV when the book came out which firmly established me as an expert in my field.
I’ve won an award from the Italian Footwear Manufacturing Association for my passion about footwear, had my first book translated into Croatian and was brought there for a press tour, have had my show on HSN called Shoe Therapy (R), had the highest selling footwear collection ever on SHOPNBC for my capsule collection I did for them, and interviewed celebs on the red carpet. It has been a totally amazing journey and I have met so many creative wonderful people.
Can you tell us a little bit about your recently released book, Shoe Are You?
Shoe Are You? follows my underlying philosophy that shoes, more than anything we put on our bodies, have a profound effect. That’s because shoes are the only fashion item that have an actual physiological impact on us affecting the way we walk, carry ourselves and stand. I worked with an amazing illustrator Mary Pressel Cline to bring each shoe girl to life—from the Ballet Flat Girl to the Sneaker Girl to the Stiletto Girl—each shoe girl has their own unique story, point of view on the world. When we women are in different types of shoes we approach the world differently. We might zip around in sneakers or strut in our stilettos.
What do you think a person’s shoes say about them?
Everything!!! I think you can tell what people are into—some of their more internal dialogue is revealed through their shoe choices—the feelings someone has about themselves, which is what I find so fascinating. The stories in people’s shoes—they reveal much more than they mean to!