Although studying fashion in college would have been a natural fit, Harvey enrolled in the Department of Political Science at Clark Atlanta University and set out to become an attorney. “My mother was in the military and very firm. She would not allow me to major in fashion because to her it was not a secure job,” says Harvey. But upon entering her junior year, she decided to make her dream a reality. That year, she sold all her stocks and took loans from her husband and uncle to raise the roughly $30,000 needed to open her first shoe boutique in Albany, Georgia.
Harvey says her previous job at a Bakers shoes location and her political science degree prepared her for the business. “[They] taught me how to manage, interact with people, how to stock shoes, and my [college] major showed me the legal aspect of running a business, such as dealing with customs issues, trademarks, litigation, contract negotiations, international laws, and trade.”
Two years later she opened two other locations in Atlanta’s Cumberland Mall and in Union City, Georgia’s Union Station Mall. Although all three stores were doing well, they sold other designers’ shoes. So Harvey focused on creating her own brand: She depleted her life savings and used the money from the three boutiques to create FEVER, a women’s footwear line, in 2009. Harvey, the sole designer at FEVER, designs shoes manufactured in China and priced from $59.99 to $275 in sizes 5 to 11. Her upcoming line, Glam Goddess, will go up to a size 13.
Her shoes have been worn by celebrities such as Raven-Symoné, Megan Goode, LisaRaye, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and Rocsi of 106 & Park, among others. The collection is sold and distributed in stores throughout the U.S., U.K., Canada, Africa, and the Caribbean. Revenues from the brand reached $300,000 in 2011 with projections aimed at $650,000 in 2012. FEVER is a certified Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) business that is valued at $1.5 million.
Harvey credits her faith and creativity for the company’s overall success. While several designers rely on manufacturers to create the look and feel of the shoes through their catalogs, Harvey actually sketches all of her designs on paper and then brings them to life using Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft’s Picture It Premium, giving her a competitive and creative advantage.
She also combines comfort and quality going against the industry standards of 3 millimeters of padding in shoes by inserting 5 millimeters to address the concerns of women who love high pumps but don’t want them to hurt. “My footwear collection stays within the box, but always colors outside of the lines.”
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