Pretty Ballerinas Make Girls Holidays To Menorca A Shoe-In
Written by Jaillan Yehia
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The very first thing I spy after landing in Menorca, and exiting those double-doors that spit you out of security and into your holiday destination, is a tall pink leaflet dispenser advertising Pretty Ballerinas shoes.
Of course like any self-respecting girl, the idea of shoe shopping while on holiday – possibly at a discount – has my interest piqued immediately.
But as I’m with a group – consisting mainly of men – I decide to leave it until later to work out if my hunch is right that the high-end ballet pumps which are beloved of celebs must be manufactured on this very island…
I must admit that Menorca’s attractions aside from the shopping keep me pretty busy for the next few days to the extent that I almost forget about the shoes – almost.
But fast forward a few days and I’m surrounded by pumps and wedges, heels and handbags, and totally gleeful, like a kid in a candy shop.
In fact just like a candy shop the Pretty Ballerinas factory store is decorated in pretty pinks and chocolate-box ribbons, meaning it’s a delightful place to spend some time.
This is just as well as the vast selection of leather goods on offer here make it hard for me to drag myself away in a hurry – even though my next appointment is at a spa. I end up missing it. This says a lot.
Yet the outlet store, adjacent to the main factory near the centre of the island where Pretty Ballerinas have been made since their birth in 2005, is not the only place in which I pass a pleasant hour or two.
I’m also lucky enough to be invited behind the scenes at the factory itself to witness Pretty Ballerinas being put together, largely by hand, which for a shoe fiend like me makes for a fascinating excursion in its own right.
I’m shown around the production facility by David Bell, Founder and Creative Director of the Ballerinas brand as well as an integral part of parent company Mascaro – an established label for European footwear followers.
What I learn from David echoes much of what has become clear from my guides after spending time in Menorca – that the island has a long history of manufacturing, and takes leather goods and shoe making very seriously.
In fact the success of Menorca’s shoe industry is one of the key reasons the island was able to reject the kind of large scale tourist development that neighbouring Majorca and Ibiza chose to embrace in the 1960’s and 70’s, meaning we partly have Mascaro to thank for the unspoiled, clean and tranquil Menorca which continues to draw in discerning tourists to this day.
I’m regaled by the history of the Mascaro brand going back to 1918 while I’m shown how the shoes are made some 100 years on – and many of the techniques remain unchanged.
Founder Pedro began simply making good quality dance shoes so that the daughters of the upper classes could practice ballet on the island.
It was his son Jamie who saw the potential to expand, started selling on the Spanish mainland and realised you could put a sole on ballet shoes and wear them out on the street.
Jamie sounded like a stand up guy – a PR pro and shmoozer extraordinaire who understood the value of brand awareness before the phrase was even coined, he pulled stunts like hiring the best hotel in a city and throwing a huge big party complete with champagne and caviar to make sure that everyone in the area wanted a piece of the Mascaro action.
They’ve kept that devotion to PR – Mascaro still doesn’t do any advertising, which, they say, means the proportion of the price you pay that goes into the product itself is vastly higher.
By 2005 Mascaro shoes had created a stand alone brand for the ballerinas called Pretty Ballerinas, which opened it’s first stores in London and went on to become the pump of choice for London dwellers like Kate Moss, Lilly Allen and Kylie Minogue.
The real win came in 2010 when the firm opened a store on Milan’s most celebrated shopping street – proving once and for all that Spanish shoe design could rival that of the Italians.
In fact the brand prides itself on using the same material supplier and lasts as the very best Italian footwear brands, they also use the same leopard print as Dolce & Gabbana, so when you consider that the ballerinas average around €70 and a heel costs about €120 you can see that the mark ups aren’t anywhere near as high as luxury names.
‘What they want to do here is make shoes and keep the village going – it’s not done to get the most money. We ask how can we make the customer happier and how can we do it better?’ says David, it’s a philosophy I just can’t argue with.
Pretty Ballerinas In Numbers
1 The number of pairs of Pretty Ballerinas which I left the store clutching, though it was so nearly…
2 As the outlet prices are as low as €30 a pair.
3 This is how many types of cutting are carried out on the shoe uppers – by hand, by machine and by something called a biscuit cutter or trowel. It’s also the number of generations of the same family who work here.
4 Is the total number of designers employed at Mascaro – but…
5 Is the total number of technical people working on the designs because ‘design is all very well but a shoe needs to work otherwise people don’t buy it or bring it back.’
6 Times. That’s the usual minimum mark up on luxury brand goods such as shoes, but Mascaro believes in giving the customer the same level of quality at a much lower mark up.
77 The number of Pretty Ballerinas stores around the world.
100 How many Mascaro shoe stores exist worldwide.
THE PRETTY BALLERINAS JAMIE MASCARO FACTORY OUTLET – MORE INFO
The Jamie Mascaro and Pretty Ballerinas factory outlet store is located at Ferreries, just north of the centre of the island of Menorca.
The address of the Mascaro and Pretty Ballerinas outlet is Calle Poife, 07750 Ferreries, Balearic Islands, Spain.
You can also phone +34 971 37 38 37
The shop is usually open from 9.30 am – 8.30pm (10-2 on Sundays) and is busiest during peak summer season and of course on rainy days.
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