Cinderella discovered that a good pair of shoes can impact your life. Designer Caitlyn Hess has built her business on a similar philosophy.
Her luxury shoe brand Schee, based in Cranberry, helps women “walk to make a difference” with styles inspired by philanthropic causes such as breast cancer and cystic fibrosis awareness. She donates 5 percent of total sales to these causes.
So on a wedding day, when every woman has the right to feel like Cinderella, Ms. Hess aims to make every bride feel like a princess with Schee’s first bridal collection called Bliss. A portion of the proceeds from the line will go to Wish Upon A Wedding, a nonprofit wish-granting organization based in New Jersey that provides weddings and vow renewals for couples facing terminal illness or another life-changing situation.
“I’ve always wanted to help others and make a difference in some way,” says Ms. Hess, who earned a degree in science from Penn State University and planned on pursuing a career in medicine. But while interning in the field, she wondered if there was another way to help people that also would involve her passion for shoes.
She put together a concept for the shoe brand and sent an email to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. It was passed along to a board director who saw potential in Ms. Hess’ ideas and put her in touch with developers who would get her started.
She’s been working on designs since 2011 and introduced her first shoes to the public in 2013. The Bliss bridal collection is expected to debut in November, and the styles would be for sale in spring/summer 2015.
“When I first got into the business and I went to all of the shoe shows, we constantly were having bridal boutiques and bridal buyers come up to us and ask, ‘Have you ever thought about designing bridal shoes?’ I feel like it’s a void that needed to be filled,” Ms. Hess says.
Her own wedding earlier this summer also influenced the eight-piece collection, and yes, she wore one of her own designs. She chose a color palette of white and ivory hues, and each shoe is named after a building block of marriage, including faith, love and trust. Some pairs are detailed with pearl and crystal embellishments, while others feature glittery mesh netting. All are equipped with dual foam padding for maximum comfort for the march down the aisle.
The majority will retail for $200-$400 at www.whoisschee.com and in select stores. Current collections also are available at Footloose in The Galleria in Mt. Lebanon and Gregory’s in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas and Atlanta.
Sara Bauknecht: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SaraB_PG.