KISH: Tell us about Agnes Bethel
Leslie: Agnes Bethel is luxury brand designed to elevate your closet and adorn your feet. We encourage our clients to live authentically and experience life by their own terms. Be bold, take risk, create experiences in Agnes Bethel.
KISH: Who or what inspired you to become a shoe designer?
Justice: My wife is my forever muse but I am inspired by everything. I started designing based on a bet to design a pair of shoes better than what my wife was going to purchase at the time. That bet sparked a passion in me that I did not know existed. Designing became my outlet when I was recovering from my 2nd surgery and since 2008 I have not looked back. I design shoes that I want to see my wife in.
KISH: How is working together as husband / wife?
Justice: It is great working with my love. We rarely disagree, and seem to know what the other is thinking. Being locked in with one another is definitely a plus. On the rare occasion that we do disagree, it’s because of excitement over a new design and that’s when she somehow thinks she is the designer and starts telling me what I should do with the design. Lol
KISH: How do you find your inspiration?
Justice: Inspiration is all around us, and can come from the most unlikely of places too. It can come from a tear drop or from the way a piece of paper dances as the wind blows which is what inspired the scallop rigid details of my Spoil design. That was a simple piece of ash that danced in the wind as a cigarette was lit. Inspiration strikes me in traffic, before bed just about everywhere.
KISH: What challenges have you encountered as a designer?
Justice: The challenges I’ve faced as a designer is like any other, often times I feel like I am in a non-creative space and I don’t feel like doing anything. I am a disabled veteran so I have a lot of health issues that sometimes but me out of commission for days at a time and that’s difficult because then I feel unmotivated. As a small business owner that is 100% self-funded there are also limitations on the collections we would like to move forward with.
KISH: What does the future hold for Agnes Bethel?
Leslie: The immediate future for Agnes Bethel will see the release of our first men’s shoe as well as women’s flat and handbag. We are also gearing up to create a few RTW pieces to introduce for summer 2022. Long term we envision Agnes Bethel as a household name synonymous with all the great designers that came before us. We want to leave a legacy of extraordinary unforgettable designs and craftmanship that resonates with our customers. We see Agnes Bethel in a wide range of apparel. We want to adorn closets around the world. We envision Agnes Bethel as all around lifestyle brand.
KISH: Please provide final thoughts/advice for others who are seeking to become designers or start a business.
Justice & Leslie: The one piece of advice we could offer would be to never let the fear of the unknown hinder you from starting in the first place. People get caught up on likes and followers for validation but if you hold true to your brand and what you are building the rest will follow in due time. Always bet on yourself regardless of what others around you may think or say.