TODAY   |  October 03, 2013

Jimmy Choo founder talks struggle and success

Tamara Mellon, the woman who founded and grew the high-end shoe company Jimmy Choo into a powerhouse, talks with TODAY’s Jenna Bush Hager about her difficult childhood before starting the famous brand.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> are the height of fax as we all know and jimmy choo has become a premier name in the industry. now its co-founder is opening up in a candid memoir called "in my shoes." contributing interviewer jenna bush hager .

>> she created a billion dollar shoe empire. she is speaking out with shocking new details of her life beyond the glitz and glamour of the fashion world. [ music playing ]

>> reporter: it's a name that has become synonymous with women's fashion and glamour. a luxury brand even kerry bradshaw couldn't bare to part with.

>> i lost my shoe!

>> reporter: but for tamara mel lompb, the life behind that brand, life at times has been anything but glamorous.

>> one glass of the wine to me turned into 6:00 in the morning and calling a coke dealer, then realizing, oh my good, i got to be at work in three hours.

>> after losing her job at british vogue at the age of 27, she entered rehab. but there was a silver lining to hitting rock bottom . there she began pursuing her dream of starting her own shoe business.

>> when i came out of rehab, i said, this was the time to do it.

>> do you think this business in some ways saved your life?

>> absolutely.

>> mellon reached out to a former colleague from her days at vogue, a shoe cobbler from london's east end named, you guessed it, jimmy choo . he made custom shoes for the rich and famous , including princess don't na and soon a partnership was born.

>> the original idea was for jimmy to design the collection and i would run the operation of the business. it soon became very clear that jimmy's skill was in making shoes. he's a cobbler.

>> so he really never designed?

>> not one.

>> collection.

>> not one sketch did i get from him. not one.

>> so she became a designer by default. choo's name stayed with the country long after he was bought out. mellon would spend a decade growing the business. she credits her success and drive to her difficult childhood.

>> your mom seems to have, of course, like all mothers do, play a central role in shaping who you are.

>> she was a chronic alcoholic when we go up.

>> that goes with all the mood swings and depression and the crazy and sanity behavior that goes around it because if you can't trust your own mother works can you trust?

>> but she says her father was her lifeline.

>> the warmth and the love i felt always came from him.

>> his death began a downward spiral for mellon that would last for years.

>> you know, my father died in 2004 . i got divorced in 2005 . i had a hostile takeover of my company in 2006 .

>> mellon stepped down from jimmy choo in 2011 , leaving behind the company she had started from scratch. now she's stepping out with a brand-new label. with her name on it this time.

>> what's it leak to see this label, to see your name here?

>> i can't believe that it's actually happened. you know, there it is, you know, because i had the drome and the vision. now it's a reality.

>> still on her shelf an appreciation for the shoe that helped launch her life. this is the infamous carrie bradshaw shoe. do you remember the name of it?

>> in such early days , we didn't have names yet. so it had a number. 72149.

>> you remember?

>> living now in new york with her daughter mindy, tamara is drawing from the past to draw a new chapter for her own daughter. this time filled with love.

>> if i have a bit of akron imty now, i'm better standing my ground, it's only because i not my way through the rites of passage .

>> we reached out to both jimmy choochlt and tamara 's mother, both declined to comment. they said their mother wasn't an alcoholic and they had amazing parents. she says she is proud of her daughter's achievements and would one day heal theorist. efforts have been rejected. she is an amazing woman. overcome a lot.

>> the controversy and overcoming all that aside, i noticed that a lot of you were hyperventilateing. i mean, you have never seen anything like. a shoe closet. can you imagine? now i can.

>> the dream.

>> far away.

>> something to aspire to.

>> pearly gates .

>> i have to say, being in that closet was like dream.

>> it's huge business. it is amazing to be around that.

>> thank you. the book, of course, is called "in my shoes." it's in book stores now.