The D’Amelios are well-known for their massive online footprint — Charli, 19, has long been one of the biggest stars on TikTok with a current following north of 150 million — and they are now testing the waters in real life for their first major brand pop-up. D’Amelio Footwear launched in May strictly as an e-commerce brand from the family’s D’Amelio Brands umbrella company but, for a limited time, they’ve set up shop at L.A. retail hot spot The Grove for the month of September. The Hollywood Reporter stopped by recently for a group interview with parents Heidi and Marc and famous daughters Dixie and Charli to talk about what they’ve learned so far during their footwear industry tenure, the strategy of transitioning followers to customers and their next business venture into the snacks game.
There’s a crowd starting to form behind us. Are you two able to come to The Grove on your own?
Dixie: I feel like we can, there’s so many people here during the daytime with so much going on. When there are a lot of kids around or younger people, that’s when it could get crazy but normally it’s not too bad. We were here the other day and there was a line for a giant dog and we were like, “Oh yeah, OK.” Everyone was just kind of doing their own thing.
Charli: A real dog?
Dixie: Yeah, it was massive. There was a long line of people to see it, literally.
It’s been four months since you launched D’Amelio Footwear. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about the footwear industry thus far?
Heidi: How you have to think and plan so far ahead. It’s amazing but now we have to wait for [the shoes] to come out which is the hardest part. I’m so excited for what we have out now, and I’m so excited for spring and what’s to come next year. I love being in the footwear business. We’re new to it and it’s exciting but we’re still learning and I feel like we’re holding our own so far.
Marc: One of the things that we’ve learned is that followers don’t equal customers. You have to do the work. That’s why we’re doing something like this [pop-up]. It’s difficult for people to come to a website that already has a shoe brand and for them to find something they love that’s new. Consumers want to be able to touch and feel the product and try it on. That’s a game-changer.
How do you transition followers to customers?
Marc: We put a great team of people around us and they have all been in the business. Our head of footwear design has been in the business for 20 years. Our head of production knows every little aspect of how to make sure the product fits and feels right. There are things we can give advice on; the girls are great at giving advice on styling and trends but ultimately the actual production of a shoe is something we needed a skilled team for. That’s what we’ve done and it’s starting to make us successful.
Making sure something fits and feels right could also apply to the authenticity of connecting with your audience on social media. How do you navigate wanting to promote your business while also remaining genuine with your fans and followers?
Charli: Make things that you actually love and want to wear every day and you’ll have no problem promoting it. I feel like that’s the easiest thing to do in the most authentic way. We’re very lucky to be able to dream up any shoes that we can imagine and really be able to make that a thing, be able to wear them and hold them. There’s something really special about having a thought or idea and then seeing that come to life and pretty soon you get to put it on your body.
Dixie, what about for you? Your style has been a little chameleonic over these past couple of years and people respond to what are you are wearing. What input did you give in terms of style and products?
Dixie: Every time we have a design meeting, I do have a different opinion of what I like. It’s cool because I get to change with the shoes and then they’ll try something new and be like, “Oh, I like this.” Other times, I’m like, “Oh no.” But then I get it and fall in love. Like with the giant, sequined sparkly boot. It’s the cutest thing ever. It’s definitely fun to try new things and get to style outfits around the shoes. There are no rules at all. You get to do whatever you want.
What should people expect from D’Amelio Footwear moving forward?
Marc: We’re excited about new price points which people are going to be into because it allows us to have different types of shoes.
Higher or lower price points?
Marc: We have a younger follower base and want to make sure that we have an offering for consumers on any spending budget. We’re trying to land a sneaker in the $60 price point so we’ll see if we can get there but we’re pretty close.
Beyond footwear, I read that D’Amelio Brands is prepping to expand into snacks …
Marc: Yes, we are in the process of that. We started a snack company that we’ll be launching in late October with a major internationally-known retailer. It’s really exciting and this is all under the umbrella of D’Amelio brands. That’s something that I started to not only take the dependence off of Charli and Dixie but to also have an entity that we stand behind. The company can hopefully last beyond whatever else we decide to do that doesn’t involve social media.
How do you two feel about that decision, something that can alleviate some of the focus on your social footprints while building a business for the whole family?
Charli: It’s awesome. It’s also really great for our family relationship. They’ve never said, “You need to post this,” or, “You need to do that.” But continuing not to do that will make us all continue working together in a great way so that we can continue growing all the brands.
What is the best thing about being in business as a family and what is the most challenging?
Dixie: It’s hard to pinpoint one specific thing as being the best because there’s so many good things. It’s really fun. We all get along and it’s brought us closer. We have a different relationship than typical parents and children because it’s weird to have your parents listen to something you say and take your advice like they do with business. The worst thing? I don’t want to say. [Laughs] We have a lot of meetings.
Marc: She doesn’t love the meetings.
Dixie: They’re all basically so close to being about the same things and we’ll have a bunch. But I know the meetings are necessary …
Marc: I don’t think you really feel that they are necessary …
Charli: It’s just like, the meeting could’ve been an email. It could’ve been an email.
Marc: I’ll tell you one thing that’s great, especially for them. When they do endorsement deals, sometimes they don’t have a creative say. In this business and in other businesses we have, they have total freedom to make decisions that I listen to and that Heidi listens to. We trust them. I remember when Charli would go to meetings and come back to me, afterward she would say, “Dad, they don’t get it.” They know that we’re here for them and we get it. We want them to give us their opinions and their information. That’s one of the greatest things about working together as a family.
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