Growing up in the fast-paced footwear industry, Calgary’s Shoe Muse—known to her friends as Dani Izzo—started navigating the ever-shifting world of shoes the moment she could strap on her own pair. As a third-generation fashionista, Dani uses her personal connection to the world’s fashion capitals to muse her staff and clientele out of their comfort zones and into stylish, truly exceptional footwear. Each year, Dani travels around a circuit of boutique shoe factories and European fashion shows. During these trips, Dani gains the first-hand, boots-on-the-ground expertise in upcoming fashion trends she brings home to her clientele.
“Encouraging my staff and clientele to step outside their box and experience original craftsmanship inspires each shoe I bring home,” says Dani. “I take a lot of my inspiration from artisans working in fashion capitals throughout Europe, but it’s my clientele that motivate every pair of shoes I buy.”
“I’m a professional shoe gambler. Every shoe I pick is a gamble, I need to know what a customer wants, I need to remember their unique personality and style. When I’m buying a new collection it’s not about me, it’s about the people who trust me to find them something fresh and exciting, something the Canadian market has in short supply.”
With 24 years of hands-on training from both her mother Ambra and grandparents John and Edda, Dani’s experience covers every aspect of the complex world of shoes: from a simple, everyday pair of shoes, to a high-end, one-of-a-kind piece of art.
“My mom is brilliant, she’s not just my teacher and mentor, she has encouraged me to grow into a better manager, marketer, merchandiser, customer service rep… people think the shoe business is all about buying shoes, it’s not; the shoe business is all about people, it’s about relationships. Without my mom allowing me to take on more responsibility and make mistakes, I couldn’t have been successful. I was given an endless opportunity to express my creativity, and I can’t begin to express how grateful I am for this,” says Dani.
“I know I’m truly blessed to be a part of my family’s business. I have the opportunity to continue mastering something I love and a family willing to mentor me as I learn.”
In keeping with family tradition, Dani’s sister, Chantal Pilon, designs and manages her own brand of high-fashion shoes using the self-styled moniker, Chanii B. Chanii B Shoes (https://chaniibshoes.com/) are designed in the U.K. by Chantal and handmade in Portugal.
I asked Dani if she had any advice for people looking to enter the complicated world of retail shoes. Her reply: “life’s a runway, walk it! Never be afraid to take risks, fashion is never found ‘inside’ the box.”
Want to get in touch with Dani? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or come by Calgary’s Shoe Muse for a visit (click here for directions.)