Alice Pritchard – Happy Sole, Happy Soul
Alice Prichard, originally from South Wales, is the youngest of three children. Her parents farm for a living whilst her mum runs a house and garden shop. Such an entrepreneurial spirit exists in the family that between the five of them, they run five businesses!
Alice moved from Llantrisant to Devon to be with her boyfriend who runs a pig farm. The farm, just outside of Honiton, also plays host to her showroom – World Secrets – where many of her designs are displayed. Shoes and accessories, inspired by colours and textiles from around the world, a beautiful adornment to any shelf (or foot).
But ironically, it was not in design that Alice would graduate from college. She recalled how her Grandad would jokingly hide the Sellotape away on her visits, such was her love for cutting and sticking things down – arts and crafts. She did initially enrol at art school but left after a short stint, as she found that she wasn’t creating in the way she wanted to create.
Having made quite a U-turn in career choice, she qualified as a Chartered Surveyor from the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester, which saw her auctioning sheep and farm machinery, amongst other things. Before long she realised that she couldn’t see herself spending the rest of her life in an office job. It was time to get creative again.
One thing that Alice has always loved to do is travel, inspired by the many colours and textures of fabrics and products around the world. She would often bring products back, which her mum would sell in the shop. Alice realised that she could make a business out of selling these brightly coloured items, but the quality was often not up to scratch.
She decided to use the textures and colours to make a better-quality product which was more suited to the English market. She elected to have shoes, bags and accessories made from antique Kilim rugs and Ikat silks. Each item is carefully made by two families in Turkey whose expertise has been passed on from generation to generation. A close working relationship and mutual trust has grown between Alice and the makers, so much so that they have become more like family to her.
Around three years ago, Alice was able to quit her ‘day job’ and dedicate herself to World Secrets full time. She has seen sales increase over the last two years by 100%, producing around 2500 pairs of shoes last year.
And the male population needn’t feel left out as Alice designs shoes for men too. Made from Kilim and designed around an old-fashioned smoking slipper, Alice assured that they look fantastic in the summer worn with shorts. She is inspired to make things that are different, saying,
‘‘Everybody has everything! Everything is so accessible on the internet now that you rarely see something new. Even though there are new things established, nothing is a surprise anymore. So, I wanted to create something different, that people would say, “Woah, this is different, nobody else has got this!”’
Alice hosts pop up stands throughout the year, one of which is at the famous Chelsea Flower Show. It is here that she formed a connection with the Chelsea Pensioners. She said,
‘The Chelsea Flower Show is a magical place and early in the morning, before the gates open, I would sit and have a cup of tea and a chat with them, they are fantastic, and I really admire them’.
Dedicated to The Royal Hospital, she has designed a new ‘She Who Dares’ sneaker, in honour of the Chelsea Pensioners. Taking colour inspiration from their uniforms and The Royal Hospital Logo, for every pair sold, 20% will be donated to the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.
She is passionate about giving a little back to society through her creativity. Whether that’s to her makers, raising funds for charity or even by creating stunning, high-quality products to lift the spirit of the nation.
‘One of the most important things is quality. I want people to have that feeling; that when they walk away with them, they’re pleased. That when they put them on their feet, it’s going to change their day, make them smile and make them happy. That’s the reason why I do what I do.’
Alice has many plans for the future; she’d love to design a unique shoe for a different charity each year. She is also thinking about a ‘build your own shoe’ idea on her website but says that is something she would need to run by her Turkish makers first. Watch this space!
For more info, pop onto the website: www.worldsecrets.co.uk
Written by Stella Nicholls
Interviewed by Joff Alexander-Frye
Photos provided by Alice Pritchard