My thoughts on In my shoes, a memoir’ by Tamara Mellon, co-founder of global brand Jimmy Choo.

With a reported exit of £135 million, Tamara takes you on her roller-coaster journey from washed out media executive to becoming one of the biggest names in retail.  Her memoir is a riveting account of how she built the famous international luxury brand Jimmy Choo. She literally ‘tells all’; the family back stabbing, the private equity nightmares from start up to exit, and how she is structuring her new company based on the lessons she’s learned.

Three things really struck me throughout the book:

  • Coming from a wealthy family is no guarantee of a charmed life. Tamara’s mother in particular controlled her with money. Not that she felt sorry for herself in any way – but it dispels the myth that coming from a rich family always means it is easy.
  • Beware of what you are getting into with private equity. Of course they want an exit and will be completely focused on the EBITDA (Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization). This often comes at a price, as Tamara found out.
  • Get good advisors, in particular a good lawyer. The time to get everything tied up is when there are no problems. Tamara trusted her family and to her detriment this backfired. While it is a tragedy that her mother ultimately betrayed her, the signs were there right from Tamara’s childhood that her mother was never going to act in her best interests.  Because this is a mother/child relationship, and most children are relentless in hoping their parents will do the right thing by them, it’s understandable Tamara trusted her mother would treat her with integrity.

In my shoes is a fascinating book that combines the business lessons Tamara learned while building one of the world most famous brands with the personal dynamics of how that affected her relationships with family, investors, staff and partners.  In many ways she was lucky to have a father who could back her financially but in other ways she wasn’t – her controlling, bitter mother and her punishing schedule being two that spring to mind.

One reviewer described the book as part memoir and part MBA master class – an apt description. If you’re considering private equity funding for your business I’d say it should definitely be on your reading list.