Phebe Utama: Putting Her Best Shoes Forward

So I have shown you the Linea store and all the pretty shoes that it offers. Now it’s time for me to bring you the woman, whose job sounds so exciting it makes us think if we’re on the right path :D. She is the one who works hard in making those shoes available for us to buy. Ladies, without further ado, let’s meet Phebe Utama, a General Manager at Linea who has been there for a good eight years.

Pheebe Utama during one of her trip to Italy

Tell us in short what does your job entail of?

My responsibility is to turn money into shoes and shoes into money. In another word, it’s simply to buy and sell.

We’re curious as to how you get yourself into the shoe industry. Are you always passionate about shoes that somehow lead you toward this career path?

Actually it was not passion for shoes that lead me toward this career path. Prior to working with Linea, I was the Accessories Buyer for Metro Department store which includes bags, shoes and jewelries. It seemed as the most logical move in my career development to specialize in one of them.

To me as a buyer, selecting shoes always implies some kind of challenge. With bags, it’s so much easier, all you need to do is to choose different colors of the most favorite style of the season and you’re good. Whereas with shoes, there are a lot of factors that you need to consider. You need to find a good balance between design, fitting, quality and last but not least price (which is one of the most important things!). Moreover, with shoes, if you fail to capture what the market wants, the risk is much bigger. Because with each shoe design, you need to purchase the full size run.

What is the best selling at Linea this season?

I would say the wedges. In Linea we have all kinds of wedges sole – wooden, espadrilles and cork to name a few. They always fly off the shelves. We have wedges with different heights, from 5 -11 cm.

Also, because wedges have very chunky heels and tend to be high, I recommend getting one with rubber soles. This kind of sole is long lasting, very light (so it doesn’t add up to the weight of your heels) and it’s non-slippery as well.

One brand that caught my attention is the elastic band wedges from Sarah Summer. The brand offers a wide variety of wedges in luscious colors and even though it’s made from elastic bands (which seems to be big now!) the comfort factor does not evaporate because the brand uses high quality band.

Are you a shoe addict?

Yes I am. I spend the most in shoes rather than bags, dress/attire, jewelry and cosmetics.

Do you have a favorite brand in Linea?

My favorite brand is Schutz because not only they offer stylish shoes with good quality but it’s also good in price. We have been working with them for a very long time and we see how committed they are in developing their brand. They never fail to deliver impressive design, season after season.

What shoes do you think no girl should live without?

I don’t think that there’s one type of shoes that every girl should own, because there’s no one pair of shoes that will suit everyone. Fashion is about finding what’s best for you, so it’s different for everyone. My believe is that you should find shoes that can enhance your look no matter what the Fashion Editor said :)

Do you have any idea why women can’t seem to have enough of shoes?

I think it’s because shoes are accessories that you can never leave at home.  Fashion always changes season to season, there’s always new style, new trend and new color. Most women want to have the right shoes to complete her their overall look. I believe our look can easily be ruined if we pair something with mismatched shoes. For example pairing little black dress with a pair of wedge sandals will leave people with no lasting impression. On the other hand we will easily stun people if we pair killer red pump shoes even though we’re only wearing out daily black and white office outfit.

Also, for different type of occasions you will need different type of shoes (party, holiday, office, etc). Shoes can also be used as a tool to seduce man, a simple high stiletto can look so sexy.

Lastly, simply because women can’t seemed to resist a pair of good looking shoes.

Since you’ve sold many shoes, what do you think of Indonesian preference for shoes? What do they like?

Indonesian people have very good tastes and they adore shoes that offer story and fantasy. Also, they know which are the best quality shoes. They are sophisticated customers which you can not fool. They understand a reasonable pricing point for a product, so don’t think that you can jack up the price and get away with it.

How has the market changed over the last couple of years that you’ve been in the industry?

When I first joined Linea, I only needed to buy shoes 2 times a year each time the season change. All I needed to do was to arrange the shipment for every month.

But nowadays, with more high street brands coming into our market you see that the Indonesian customer mind set has been advancing quite well.  These high street brands offer complete package of fashion items. Not only you are exposed with the latest fashion must-haves, but their window display provides you a portrait on how to wear them. I think the idea of fast-changing style has completely shifted their perception. Nowadays, customers expect novelty. If they came into the store after a month and we don’t have anything new on display, they will lose interest easily.

What can we expect from Linea for next season?

For next season, we still provide open-toed shoes with bright summery colors. Since we live in a tropical country, open-toe shoes are always in high demand no matter what the season is. We try to brighten up the Fall/Winter collection (most of the time is dominated by darker and muted tone) by requesting the shoe producer to change the color of the shoe lining into something more colorful.

You will still see zipper accent dominating the shoe scene even for next season. Also, we’re going to be bringing in some combat inspired boots or basically boots with laces accent.

Wow, buying trip three times a year to Europe? That sounds like our kinda job :D Thank you for sharing with us Mbak Phebe, please keep bringing us beautiful shoes :)