Living the American dream, we caught up with Albanian-American designer Elona Appleby of James Carletons as she preps for the brand's upcoming appearance at Nolcha Shows in NYC.

How did you become involved in footwear? From a young age, like most girls, I always remember sneaking into the closet and pulling out all my mother's shoes and trying them on; wearing them around the house and begging to wear them in public. However, the real passion came when I scored my first real job at the age of eighteen as a makeup artist for Estee Lauder. Working in major department stores — on my feet everyday — I made a promise to myself that one day I would design shoes that were not only beautiful but also comfortable.

What do you love most about it? The design process and the people I work with.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face? I have to admit that I have been very lucky to be able to work with an incredible family-owned manufacturer in Italy that has certainly made the process one that every new designer only dreams of. However, I believe that one of the biggest challenges as a designer, is deciding on a style and leather that you love versus one that you know will sell.

How would you describe your designs? My designs are what I would wear myself. Being a Florida girl at heart, a lot of the inspiration comes from that tropical destination. I love color, flowers, laces; I love a shoe that you will remember someone wearing at a party. After all, you can only do a black pump in so many variations. At the end of the day, it’s just a black pump. In my opinion, forgettable.

How would you want a wearer to feel in your designs? I want them to instantly feel a sense of confidence in knowing that they will be able to wear James Carletons all day instead of just to the meeting.

What exciting developments do you have planned for 2016 and beyond? We are excited to announce that we will be launching our e-commerce soon. As a mama of two boys, James and Carleton, I created the James Carletons brand based on the idea of giving back and that is what we plan to do. We are in the process of setting up a platform where a percentage of profits will go directly to orphanages around the world. —