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BEHIND THE SEAMS - Stephanie sources new styles in Milan

An early morning visit gives you the best uninterrupted views of and from the Duomo.

One of the benefits of managing Ballettonet is the chance to travel to Milan and attend Italy’s largest footwear tradeshow, MICAM.

This year I decided to go last minute because I didn’t think I could leave my husband - who works full time - to look after two kids while I was away! Thankfully my sister and dad offered to help with the kids and I was grateful to share this whirlwind journey with my mum!

I established Ballettonet because I wanted more flexible working conditions when my first child joined the clan. Ballettonet was a way to couple my love for affordable Italian footwear with the online retail environment.

I didn’t just want to sell shoes. I wanted the stories behind each shoe artisan to be heard so our customers knew the families who made the shoes and where the manufacturer was based in Italy. Increasing transparency in the retail supply chain is important to Ballettonet.

Walking through the tradeshow was overwhelming the first time I visited in 2013. After three years in the industry, I was better prepared because I knew how the industry operated, what our customers wanted, and what styles we could try to introduce this year. As much as I would love to return each year I don’t need to because most manufacturers are happy to communicate via email and Skype.

After spending a few days at MICAM this month I walked away with many contacts for future orders and more style inspiration. Look out for edgy embellishments on shoes this year. Picture thick straps, buckles, gemstones and fur. Patent leather, velvet and metallic material were prominent too.

For the remainder of the trip we revisited some of our favourite places in Milan and celebrated Valentine’s Day with a girl’s night out at Teatro alla Scala.

Ballettonet would not be where it is today without the support from my family and the Ballettonet community. I’m excited to see what the rest of the year will bring for Ballettonet and hope the next buying trip to Milan isn’t too far away! 

Stephanie x

Steph's top 5 tips when in Milan:

  1. Book hotel accommodation close to a Metro station and the attractions you want to visit on foot. She stayed at Room Mate Guilia, which was perfect because it’s walking distance to the Duomo, the Metro, Teatro alla Scala and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II - one of the world's oldest shopping malls. It’s also clean, great value, beautifully presented and has good customer service.
  2. Pre-book your private taxi (the same price as a standard taxi from the airport to Milan – a flat rate of 95 euros). Don’t be fooled by the white coloured taxis waiting outside the airport arrival hall. Some of them operate illegally, over-charge and drive terribly (from my experience).
  3. Visit the Duomo early - from 8.30am when it’s not busy, to get uninterrupted views of (and from) the rooftop.
  4. For retail therapy, make your way to the Quadrilatero d'Oro (the Golden Quadrilateral). You can take a break at the Four Seasons café and enjoy the tranquil views of their courtyard before you continue shopping.
  5. Attend a concert or ballet performance at the Teatro alla Scalla. It’s an experience to remember.

PS. We have some exciting things planned for lovers of Italian shoes in 2017! Stay in the loop and be the first to know by joining our mailing list here.

Loving the interiors at Room Mate Guilia.

Room Mate Guilia, Milan.

At the MICAM to search for Ballettonet’s next shoe collection.

Valentine’s Day was spent with mum at Teatro all Scala to watch the ballet.

Order an Aperol Spritz and take a seat outside at Aperol Terrazza for the best views of the Duomo.

Morning light on the Duomo.

Venice is only a 2 hour train ride away. A great day trip for those with time on their schedule.

We were lucky enough to visit Venice during the Carnival of Venice (Italian: Carnevale di Venezia), an annual festival held in Venice, Italy.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II - one of the world's oldest shopping malls.