Michaela Vybohova is a supermodel with front covers of some of the best-known magazines to her credit and is now a footwear entrepreneur.
In 2020 she launched Michaela V footwear with a dream to create footwear that is affordable, but also fashionable, comfortable and of good quality. The Michaela V footwear is getting rave reviews in industry leaders from the Beverley Hill Times and El News and more.
Michaela was born in Slovakia, in a tiny village. She was raised by her single Mum, who juggled several jobs and motherhood. Michaela felt powerless to help as she watched her Mum struggle to make ends meet, and this has been a massive motivating factor in her life since then. From an early age, Michaela had set her heart on living in the US and making a career in fashion.
Michaela’s mother had an eye for style and would make personalized modifications to vintage clothes to make them fashionable and chic. Initially, Michaela started selling her Mum’s creations at school, but this wasn’t too popular with her Mum! Also, her Mum was petite, and Michaela could see there was a market for other sizes.
Michaela started buying plain clothing items, adding glitz and glamour with crystals and patches. By the time she was 14, she had set up on eBay to sell her creations and also worked as an Avon rep selling cosmetics, constantly trying to contribute.
Then, at 16, she entered a modeling contest with a friend. Michaela wasn’t really interested in joining in, but her best friend told her that she might as well as she would have to wait around for her in any case. Michaela was placed in the top fifteen and flown to Prague. There, she was offered a contract by one of the judges who owned a model management company.
Having never been outside her native Slovakia, Michaela found herself with an opportunity to model in Istanbul. She went to various castings and got some minimum rate work, but she was grateful for the opportunity. However, she was horribly lonely as she didn’t speak any other languages to chat with the other girls. For the first year, Michaela earned very little as most went to pay back the modeling agencies.
But gradually, she became more successful. She still loved clothes but could see that some creations were so expensive that no one could afford them. She remembered her Mum always saying, “I am not rich enough to buy cheap clothes.” Michaela says it took her a long time to understand, but cheap clothes fall apart and do not last. She learned when she traveled and bought them herself, only to have them fall apart after a couple of washes.
One of Michaela’s early investments was to buy a Prada jacket, and she bought it at a discount. Recently, after eight years, the zip broke, and she took it back to Prada, who not only replaced the zip but returned it dry cleaned for no charge. Michaela thinks this is how it should be with clothes.
Eventually, with only 600 dollars, she arrived in the US. Just as her funds were nearly gone, she won a modeling contract with a top agency, Wilhelmina Models. Finally, in New York, her career took off, and she has been traveling and modeling some of the top shoots and the cover of magazines such as Harpers Bazaar. She has visited new places, made incredible friends along the way, and has been hired by well-known fashion names. But while still only in her early 20’s, Michaela had not forgotten her entrepreneurial plans.
Inspired by watching the designers she modeled for at work and learning about the design process all the time, Michaela decided she still wanted to do something creative in her own right.
Michaela says she was always fascinated by the effect wearing high heels had on women, particularly how it affected their confidence. In addition, from an e-commerce perspective, she had found, as many women do, that when you buy clothes online, they don’t look remotely the same when you put them on at home. Footwear still does.
She also knew that comfort would be paramount as well as durability. Michaela went to a Chinese reflexologist and had several foot massage sessions so that she could chat to the reflexologist and learn about the pressure points of the feet, the effects of high heels, what makes feet comfortable and what doesn’t. One thing Michaela ensured was some medium heels in her collection because of these conversations.
It was a long journey to get the right manufacturers, taking over a year and a half of complex research on the internet. Michaela started in Italy because they produce the quality she loves. However, she quickly found that there were continual delays to the supply chain, orders taking up to nine months. Nor were the suppliers very interested in her as they were already fully committed to the big brands.
She did learn a lot about the construction of footwear in Italy, which stood her in good stead. So, Michaela broadened her search to Portugal, Mexico, and Hong Kong. She now buys from a mix of all three, though the leather for her gorgeous shoes and boots still comes from Italy because nowhere can match their quality.
It is one of her joys that, by chance, her main factory in Hong Kong has an all-female team, including the floor manager. So, when she says the footwear is created by women, it is literally true. She is Facebook friends with all of the women there, sees their holidays, gets to know their children. It is one of the things that drives her on, knowing that she can contribute to their well-being.
It is a passion project for her. Michaela has put her own money into it rather than seek investment. However, she has also deliberately started small and is carefully taking baby steps and learning with each one. She also felt that financing would mean she would be under pressure to drop her goal of blending quality and affordability. As a result, Michaela can keep her margins as low as possible with her own money involved while still creating a sustainable business.
Michaela says she had learned so much about both footwear and business. Most of all, she says that she now knows that it is crucial to stay with your vision but be flexible on the details. Before she started, she always planned every step of what she did, but that isn’t possible in business.
The gorgeous shoes and boots have been requested by celebrities from fellow model Olivia Culpo and singers Halsey, not to mention Beyonce, and are sold worldwide.
The future for Michaela V footwear
Michaela plans to grow her footwear brand for many reasons. One of those is to give the opportunity to a new entrepreneur from the business, opening doors for someone else with a dream. In addition, she wants to see the footwear brand spread into more countries, provide jobs for more people.
She also wants Michaela V footwear to lead the way for more brands to combine quality, sustainability, fashion, and affordability.
You might like to read of the English girl who dreamed of going to Australia and becoming an entrepreneur when she was young, Hannah Spilva of LVLY