Soul to Sole, Stepping Into Destiny Part I

A successful engineer turned high-end Italian shoe designer discusses her journey

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(Image: Ed Lefkowicz of Brooklyn, NY)

Soul to Sole

If you have ever considered the idea of starting a second career or pursuing a business venture, this is for you.

Meet Tiannia Barnes, a successful engineer turned high-end Italian shoe designer. She is an NYC-area resident, and a native of Oklahoma City. She is also an alumna of Clark Atlanta University and Georgia Institute of Technology, where she holds a dual degree respectively, in Mathematics and Industrial Engineering. Additionally, Barnes holds an M.B.A. from the University of Maryland, and has had a long and successful career in IT consulting. If you think this is impressive, what she’s accomplished next will inspire you to move beyond your comfort zone. In 2013, this STEM guru did what many only dream of doing. She turned a life-long love for shoes, into a business.

I recently spoke with the haute couturier to discuss the details of her venture. My goal is to encourage those of you who are wondering how to turn a longtime interest or newfound talent into a flourishing career or company.

Stepping into Destiny

After sharing a few sketches with friends in early 2013, Barnes was highly encouraged to take her talent a step further.

She “googled” shoe design schools, and after doing a great deal of research, decided to sit as an apprentice under acclaimed master shoe designer, Sissy Puccio, who studied in London. That December, Barnes did the unthinkable. She flew to Cleveland to meet with this seasoned shoe expert, where she would spend the next few days learning all about the art of shoemaking and design. As part of her one-on-one workshop with Puccio, she even created her first prototype.

The experience ignited such a flame within Barnes that she was determined to start wearing her “own” shoes. That following January, the sagacious engineer made it official. She hired a seasoned trademark attorney out of Miami, and established her company, Tiannia L.L.C.

Next came the task of determining where to produce her shoes.

When asked why she chose to manufacture them out of Italy, Barnes quickly pointed to the high standard of “quality” and “craftsmanship” that is synonymous with Italian fashion houses. She went on to describe her love for the “construction and design” of Italian shoes and how they make women feel. She credits her lengthy engineering background, as a primary factor in her creative prowess to produce innovative and sophisticated footwear. Barnes envisions her designs beforehand by drawing inspiration from a variety of people, places, and things. Her signature collection, “Inspire,” is reflective of this. The first three designs launched are named after the four most important women who helped to shape her life: her beloved mother Jackie, her younger sister, Regin, and both of her grandmothers who surprisingly share the name, Pearl.

Barnes is also inspired by her international travels. She is an adventurer who has explored the globe over the last decade, admiring everything from buildings to art, to the remarkable lines of other extolled designers. Her top three include; Gucci, for its timelessness, Giuseppe Zanotti, for its edginess, and the Nicholas Kirkwood brand- for its bold and rich colors. She parallels her line in offering a little of each of these, combined with her own distinct aesthetic and design.

Stay tuned for Part II, to find out how this superwoman juggles a business, career, and motherhood, while “freely” walking her purpose. She even has some great advice for new entrepreneurs that is not to be missed. For more information on Tiannia Barnes and her line, visit. www.tianniabarnes.com

Candace Boggan, is a compelling content writer and business consultant. She holds an M.B.A. in marketing, and has held a number of roles in business, across a wide range of industries. She has worked on both domestic and international projects, affording her the opportunity to connect with various cultures and professionals around the world. A global specialist and coach, Candace now draws inspiration from her experiences, using her talent to contribute to various media outlets. She also provides support to several other small, mid-sized and large organizations in numerous capacities.

Candace has been deemed a wordsmith and ideation guru by many, because of her creativity and innovation. Her work has not only landed upon the pages of posh lifestyle publications, but her two blogs (www.candacetravels.com and www.connectingpassionandpurpose.com) are currently read in over 75 countries.  She has a flair for adventure and believes the ability to travel and the gift of writing are God- given, and she adores all things related.