Emily Landsman is a New York native who set out to bridge the gap between design and tech in the modern world. After receiving her Master of Fine Arts from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, she worked in corporate footwear for nearly sixteen years, designing for prestigious fashion brands including as Alice + Olivia, Diane von Furstenberg, Vera Wang, Vince, Vince Camuto, Via Spiga, Clarks and many more household names. She eventually established her consulting firm based in the Boston Seaport, where she specializes in balancing editorial and commercial opportunities for growing brands. She aims to make tech, art and fashion education more accessible to everyone.
Through her passion for the design and technology industries, Landsman introduced a new Footwear Design Program into Boston’s School of Fashion Design and is working as a lead instructor in Visual Design, UX Design, Marketing, and Project Management at General Assembly Boston as well as acting as an advisor for Northeastern’s Scout (Design) Program.
Landsman is the founder and creator of Shoe York City, LLC, and is also launching her new shoe brand, Della Terra, this coming spring, operating its headquarters in Cape Cod and Boston.
Where did the idea for Della Terra come from?
At the beginning of the pandemic, while recovering from Covid-19, I had a lot of time to fantasize about where I would go if I was going out and what I would wear to go there. I realized that there was a void in my closet, and in the market. I needed a fresh and easy-to-wear shoe that I was excited about; that also was comfortable enough to keep up with my busy life and schedule, and imagine if this shoe was also sustainable and ethical. From there, della terra was born.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I generally begin the morning by catching up on some international messages received during the night, to avoid any delays due to the time differences. Although it is important to be responsive, I try to build in a balance to my day to ensure it is the most productive. I do Pilates in my home gym every morning before diving into work. My team starts every day with a daily stand-up meeting at 9am so the agenda for the day is clear, and any challenges that have come up since the prior day can be dealt with immediately. Next, I tackle my to-do list created the day before. I try to make sure each day has some creative aspects built in, in addition to the logistical needs that come with any start-up.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Inspiration is an important part of building della terra. I am inspired by the consumers and everything going on in their lives. The brand is influenced by the environment, nature, architecture and art. My approach is a combination of giving myself the creative time and freedom to explore, while doing so on a disciplined calendar where I still have time to implement these creative ideas and execute them to perfection. The design process is an important part of how della terra operates.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Sustainable fashion! I can’t express my excitement enough about this. I was once told I would not see sustainable fashion in my lifetime, because it was too expensive to educate the consumer. The consumer-driven trend has made sustainability and responsible manufacturing not just possible, but a necessary piece of the future of the business. I also think that inclusivity is a piece of this. The overall trend is authentic and meets people’s actual needs. This is why della terra is “real shoes for real people.”
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I plan everything, including unplanned time. It is important that my calendar account for everything we can predict as well as some padding to react to those we cannot. It is also a priority to make sure there is family time and self-care included.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Sleep. It’s a priority; good for your head and good for your skin. I find that being balanced and rested is much more efficient than powering through on little steam. Fresh solutions come much more easily when they are not forced.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Heels can be comfortable! It is important that every piece of footwear has comfort features built in, no matter what the style. It never looks cute if it slows you down and if you can’t move in it. Some heels are more comfortable than flats, they just must be the right fit.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Say thank you. Staying humble and appreciating the contributions of those around you is immeasurably important.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Organize your space. Allow yourself the freedom to “make a mess” while being creative, but make sure you put things in place so that every morning your work space welcomes you to the new day. I spend a lot of time perfecting and organizing my work space so that I can be especially productive and excited to come to work in the morning.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I hired someone who was not a great fit for the company. I let it go on longer than I should have because I did not want to accept that my instinct had not been correct. I reminded myself that I am the CEO of this company, and that I must make the decisions that are right for the business. We ended the contract amicably and I learned to be discerning with who we let into our tiny start-up family.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
An app that matches your shoes to your outfit. You take a picture of your outfit and it uses the database you created of your shoes in the app to pick the best matching pair based on algorithms and style preferences prechosen when you set up the app.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Bala bangles and BKR water bottle – amazingly helpful and practical but also the texture and colors are so delicious they have inspired the hardware for our SS21 collection!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Trello is incredible. I use it as a list-maker, calendar planner and team aligner.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Shoe Dog by Phil Knight – it paints a fantastic and realistic picture of what it’s like to start a business and how much work goes into building a brand.
What is your favorite quote?
“It’s not finished when you can’t add anything, but when you can’t take anything away” – my mom. This serves as a valuable reminder not to overwork the solution.
• Balance your work with your life
• Say “Thank You”
• Organize Your Space
• Don’t hate on heels (especially the lower ones)
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.