We Bitches love a little girl power, which is why we’re involved with organizations like Levo League, the UN Foundation’s #GirlUp initiative, and the Politico + Google + Tory Burch Foundation Women Rule event series. We’re especially fond of supporting other female entrepreneurs. And, it certainly doesn’t hurt when they’re stylish, chic, and beautiful, inside and out.
Enter Coye Nokes, a female entrepreneur and the namesake behind a chic yet functional line of footwear, based in New York. A former Business Bitch, Coye understands the relationship between style and function. As a strategy consultant at a boutique London firm, she spent years traveling the globe and advising prominent consumer and luxury brands on marketing, retail, and operations strategy. She was on the road for months at a time and was always searching for shoes that worked for her hectic lifestyle and also looked great. (Story of our busy, Bitchy lives.)
So, in 2009, she launched Coye Nokes footwear. Today, the brand has been worn by celebrities, featured in fashion magazines, and quickly become a go-to favorite of the Bitches Who Brunch. We’ve lusted after her shoes, and featured a pair or two in our monthly Fashion Menu, too. We caught up with the gal behind the business to find out makes her tick and perhaps unlock the keys to her success.
Before striking out on your own and starting Coye Nokes footwear, you worked full time as an international strategy consultant to various luxury retailers. Many women would be terrified of leaving such stability behind. How difficult was that transition?
It was definitely a bit scary. Ultimately I decided that I could always go back to consulting, but that if I let the opportunity pass I knew I would regret it.
What is your advice for women who are looking to make a similar leap?
It is important to know yourself and to know if you are up for it. Do the research, get the training and understand your risks as best as possible.
What was the inspiration behind starting your own footwear company?
I wanted to make a collection for women like me. I am always on the move and the old concept of changing shoes at the office doesn’t really work. You have to be ready for anything when you walk out the door!
There’s been tremendous talk in the media as of late about “leaning in” and female empowerment in the work place. What, in your opinion, are three key things every woman can do to really take the reigns of her career?
– Develop a vision for your career and use it as a guide to make decisions. It can be a great lens for evaluating opportunities.
– Be proactive. Often the best opportunities are the ones that don’t just come to you – you have to seek them out.
– Seek out a mentor that has a career that you admire.
On that note, how do you feel about the word Bitch and the term Power Bitch in the workplace?
I’ve always been OK with it—I love powerful women and I would never take those terms as an insult!
Women are constantly trying to strike a balance between being considered fashion forward and business professional. Unfortunately, that sometimes goes awry. What would you say are major fashion dos and don’ts for the workplace?
I think the most important thing is to work with your environment. There are no set rules and every workplace is different. No matter what the accepted dress code, I think is important to avoid extremes.
The brand has grown exponentially in the three years since you started it and continues to gain a large following! What do you think can be attributed to this growth?
The brand has definitely has evolved over the time. The willingness to be flexible and adapt to feedback to has been very important. A health dose of determination helps too!
What has been the most rewarding aspect of Coye Nokes thus far? The most challenging?
Well, in general the ‘highs’ are higher and the ‘lows’ are lower! The feeling of a big win is amazing, but it is really a rollercoaster. Managing the ups and downs has been challenging.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting Coye Nokes footwear?
I’ve learned to listen to myself—I realized that if I don’t—no one else will! Everyone has an opinion, but ultimately I have to be ok with the final decision.
You’re clearly a woman on the go! How do you manage to run your own company, maintain a personal life, set aside enough time to actually take care of yourself, and most importantly, sit down to enjoy brunch?
It is not easy, but I make plans. I have things scheduled and then commit to being fully present when I’m there. I schedule workouts, family time and brunch too! I find it creates deadlines and ultimately makes me more productive.
What’s next for Coye Nokes?
We’re working on some exciting international expansion at the moment! It is definitely keeping me on my toes (and in the air!)