How delle terra is working towards sustainability through versatile footwear with founder Emily Landsman

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Describe your business in a few words?

della terra is a women-led sustainable, ethical and inclusive footwear business focusing on creating real shoes for real people.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

While recovering from Covid-19 last spring, I gave a lot of thought to what was missing from my own closet, and the marketplace in general. There did not seem to be a fresh take on the essential pieces, that also was sustainable and comfortable. 

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

I have spent almost 20 years designing shoes for other brands such as Alice & Olivia, Diane von Furstenberg, Via Spiga and many more. I have loved working for so many different types of companies and embracing different types of customers. 

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I have always wanted to start a business, but was very skeptical about how difficult it would be to enter the very competitive footwear space as a small start-up. It wasn’t until I realized there was a true need in the marketplace that I felt confident to launch. 

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

We are working with a fantastic women-led marketing agency whose goal is to tell della terra’s story in a cohesive way, while engaging directly with our customers. Although we are just now launching publicly, there have been many months of design and development behind the scenes.  It all began with doing some sketches in a Cape Cod rental house, taping them up to the windows, using that as my workspace and inspiration. 

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

As a new business entering a space that is evolving each and every day, we have definitely had to build in a learning curve. We want to ensure we stand by the quality of our product and the way it is made. We had to make a factory switch early on in the process and it was stressful at the time. It was 100% worth getting the product right and being able to stand behind the way it is made.  

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

I am so proud of what della terra stands for as well as the product itself. I think starting this business during a global pandemic has been an accomplishment all its own as well. 

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

What is the type of job you want to be doing? As a new startup, we each need to wear a lot of hats, but we also have the ability to make sure each person’s job is tailored to their specific skill set as well as what they enjoy doing the most. 

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

The fashion industry has been forced to change during the pandemic. These challenging times have put catastrophic pressures on parts of the industry that were already strained; making wages more scarce, orders smaller and sourcing overseas more difficult. della terra was born into this crazy moment in time. We knew that our business needed to be an example of how to contribute in a positive way- providing only products people need that are built to last, with eco-consciousness in mind as well as ethical and fair wage factories. Our pledge to plant a tree for every pair of shoes sold is also an example of how we plan to run the business and constantly evolve our mission. 

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

We are so excited for the official launch of della terra, and cannot wait to share the line with you! We will continue to evolve the line, growing more and more sustainable each season. We will also implement circularity into our business, re-using our products to make new ones as well as expanding beyond footwear. 

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

Communication is key and always possible. Although I hope we have more and more options for how we communicate, the creative and virtual approaches we’ve taken to communication are valuable options to have going forward. There is no excuse to not be collaborating and communicating at all times. 

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

It is possible. You will have doubts. Keep going. 

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

This has been a time full of evaluating priorities. My friends, family and craft are more important to me than ever, and I will prioritize them above all else. During a time where so many have suffered so much loss, I feel incredibly grateful and try to remember that and appreciate these things every day. 

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

Plan work/life balance because it is necessary. After spending many years prioritizing work above all else, I now realize I am actually a better designer and CEO when I give myself the space and boundaries needed. I plan sleep, wellness and skincare into my routine as well as time for friends and family. 

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

I’m 4’11. Being so petite is part of what drew me to shoes in the first place, I love a little bit of height and could never find my size. My height has never slowed me down in my career.  

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

1) Wellness – sleep and pilates.

2) Organize your space.

3) Set a reminder for the end of your workday.

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

Being an Entreprenista means that I have taken a risk to do something that is fulfilling for my creative spirit, as well as provide a product that people actually need, while making choices that are responsible for our environment. I hope to see more women starting businesses in the future. 

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