The founder of Emy Mack Shoes on statement dressing and her Italian love affair

Emy Mack had a dream: to design fabulous shoes. But the PR and marketing expert, who had worked for Neiman Marcus (among other fashion clients), needed a wingman. She found one in Gil Fields, a footwear-industry insider whose resume includes respected labels from Isaac Mizrahi to Jimmy Choo.

Now the duo, along with Mack's husband, Robert Jamison, have launched Emy Mack Shoes, an Italian-made line that makes luxury flats, heels, boots and sandals. Mack, a 41-year-old mother of three, recently visited Columbus boutique Thread on Grandview, where her shoes are sold. We talked with her about statement dressing, her Italian love affair and the details that go into $700 shoes.

Fashion design is in your blood: Your grandmother was a clothing designer, and your personal love for fashion started early, yes?

According to my mother, at a very young age, I was pulling everything out of my closet and trying it on. And I was an only child and an only grandchild, so I was very indulged [laughing].

And your parents emphasized dressing well, you say.

Not expensively, but well. It's an important part of life, presenting one's self. And not in a superficial way. It's a statement.

You earned your business degree from Southern Methodist University, and then moved to Italy. What did you do there?

I took graduate courses, and I got a job working for a leather company. I did everything from sales to going and cutting leather in the factory. I had a love affair with Italy. I always had in the back of my mind that I love shoes, I love Italy, I want to make this part of my life.

How do you describe your style?

My vibe is classic. The shoes and their silhouettes are classic. But there's a twist… or a little edge.

The shoes start at $400 and are priced up to $870. Why?

They are literally handmade. In Italy, when you say the word "factory," it's not actually a factory-it's people there. There's a lot of detail you can't see in a lesser-quality shoe.

One of the details you are particular about is fit. The lasts, which are essentially foot forms for each style of shoe, are hand-carved from a piece of wood-and then tested by real women and continually adjusted until you are satisfied with their comfort.

It's a pretty intensive process [laughing]. Some people just do it computer-generated. Most of the time, you can really feel a difference.

How do you name your styles?

We name our lasts after friends and family. And they're all female names.

What's your favorite pair?

That's like asking me to choose my favorite child! I would have them all if Rob would let me [laughing].

Now that you've taken the leap, what are you loving?

I'm so happy! It really doesn't feel like work. It feels like I'm making a dream come true.