Few things hold more intrigue with women than beauty…and shoes. This reality, Lanell Fagan knows well. It seems that the former celebrity make-up artist, entrepreneur and single mom was destined to create beauty– from head to twinkling toes.
Before her now famous footwear adorned the pampered feet of Hollywood’s A-listers, Lady Lanell was a sought-after makeup artist with an appointment book that read like a who’s who list of Palm Beach elite, including Donald Trump, Melania Knauss and Ivana Trump, along with celebrities such as Vanessa Williams, Kate Moss, Heidi Klum, Mary Tyler Moore and the late Whitney Houston.
And then one seemingly ordinary day in 2002, on a trip home from California, Lanell had the million-dollar idea to encrust a pair of rubber flip-flops with Swarovski crystals. She spent the next evening assembling the first prototype on her kitchen counter. Every time she wore her handmade shoes, people would stop to ask where she had bought them.
“I was taking orders at the grocery store, the nail salon, the mall. It was crazy,” says the statuesque blonde.
Soon, Lady Lanell was dividing time between two careers, gluing crystals to sandals by day and making up the faces of Palm Beach’s well-heeled in the afternoons, before heading to charity galas at night with her fellow philanthropist friends. And then, Vegas happened.
In the fall of 2002, Lanell set up a small booth at Sin City’s largest international apparel and footwear tradeshow. At the time, the entire line of Lady Lanell’s consisted of a single style in a handful of colors and the marketing package was simply one beaming business owner with a passion for aesthetic flair. The shoes sold themselves, orders rolled in and Lanell’s homespun business exploded.
Within the year, Lady Lanell’s would be sold in resorts worldwide, including Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Hyatt Regency, Omni, Bellagio and MGM hotels in Las Vegas, as well as at high-end boutiques in Beverly Hills, Palm Beach and other affluent cities across North America, Europe and the Caribbean.
In the 13 years since the first Lady Lanell’s were born, headquarters has evolved from the kitchen counter, to the garage, to its own manufacturing and distribution center north of Palm Beach in Jupiter, Florida. The line has also expanded to include hundreds of combinations of styles, heights and designs, including girls’ sizes, along with customization options. Despite the volume, each pair of Lady Lanell’s sandals is still glued by hand, and quality is still top priority.
“There have been so many companies that have tried to duplicate our sandals but have been unsuccessful in doing so,” says Lanell with pride. “We provide the best rubber sandals with 400 Swarovski crystals handset one-by-one. We guarantee our work and provide excellent customer satisfaction.”
Customers certainly seem satisfied. While celebs remain fans, Lady Lanell’s have been featured gifts at award shows, including the Grammy’s and the VH1 Music Awards.
Amidst the success, Lanell Fagan seems unaffected by the attention she has gained and always credits the help she has had along the way.
“I consider my personal and business life as a huge blessing,” she says with a humble smile. “And I have my tremendous group of friends to credit with helping my dreams become a reality.”