Unless your name is Alicia Keys, Wendy Williams, or Kim Kardashian, you may not be familiar with Rashidah Ali.
Ali is the former owner of a line of high-end shoe boutiques based in Atlanta and New York City and the CEO of 5 Approved, an event promotion company and A-list celebrity shoe consultant.
Now, the luxury footwear expert who goes by the name Rah-Ali, is venturing into her next business moves. She recently launched her first private label shoe line called ENCORE, to attract the everyday fashionista for affordable prices; as well as preparing to put all her personal and professional business on TV as the newest cast member for the upcoming season of Love & Hip Hop.
She spoke with BlackEnterprise.com at her shoe launch event in NYC to discuss the inspiration for her line, the challenges she faced starting it and what to expect on the upcoming season of the show.
BlackEnterprise.com: How have you been balancing filming Love & Hip-Hop and managing your shoe line?
Rashidah Ali: I’m a hustler by nature, that’s what I do so I’m not going to pretend like I’m so exhausted by it. I love waking up every morning to do what I do. It’s great.
What were some of the challenges you faced starting your own shoe line?
There were so many. It’s a private label shoe line, so making sure that when it goes into production it resembles exactly what you want it to look like. When you express and draw a design that doesn’t mean the manufacturer is going to get it. There are so many shoe designers out there, so following through on the process from the mold to the design to the comfort was all important to me to ensure it captured my vision.
As a consultant, I dealt with high-end shoes where it was already packaged, one in each size. Now that I have a private label I can’t do that because I have to mass-produce for my customers. I wanted to have a line that is affordable and fashionable. I wanted so much, but for a small price, so the everyday woman could be able to wear it. Every day is a work in progress so I want it to get better and better.
Are you going to be wearing Encore shoes throughout the season of Love & Hip-Hop?
I’m going to always rock my product. There’s a lot of other designers that I love and respect, but I’m definitely going to rock my product because I believe in it.
How has your reputation as a successful shoe consultant helped you transition to being a business owner?
In my personal and professional life I always have a game plan, a to-do list, so I can follow step-by-step what I want to do and I don’t lose vision of the ultimate goal. So I’m just following the plan right now.