Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Enchanted Royals - A DIY Fairytale.

Haley Thompson and Dara Weinberg of Los Angeles are the the masterminds behind Enchanted Royals, a DIY biz with a fresh twist. Not only are they creating shoes, they have written a fairy tale storyline, with magical characters who wear custom painted Vans. Basically, its the Ziggy Stardust of sneaker customization. A whole concept. Interview time!

How did enchanted royals begin?

The two of us met at Emerson college on the east coast and became friends during our school's "abroad" program in Los Angeles. We both were strong followers of fashion and stringent believers in DIY mentality (Dara was at the time in training to become a wardrobe stylist and Haley grew up with a designer mom in Colorado, who taught her to sew and instilled her with an independent spirit where fashion was concerned), so we decided to pool our collective creativity and form a label.

Why did you choose to customize Vans? Any particular reason?

Dara's college roommate had a footwear collection that was comprised almost exclusively of limited edition slip-on Vans. Neither of us had ever even owned a pair before, but we were inspired by her collection. After graduation, we moved back to LA and were really taken with the way Vans seemed to permeate California culture. Haley had a side job as a princess at children's parties when we were first out of college. She called herself Princess Cupcake. She had this fantastic rose-covered dress that looked like a cupcake, but she lacked comfortable shoes to wear at these parties. Meanwhile, Dara had been thinking for a while that Vans were the perfect blank canvas to express yourself upon, so we had a craft day. Haley made herself the very first Princess Cupcake shoes on kelly green Vans with sparkly pink felt frosting, and Dara, who was missing the bare-branched trees of the east coast that winter, painted a pair of trees on charcoal Vans and sewed on some bright red rose-shaped buttons. To go with the dessert theme, she named herself the Duchess of the Black Forest (after that awesome German chocolate cake), and even took on the personality to help Haley at one of her parties. That's how Princess Cupcake and The Duchess of the Black Forest were born, and where we got the idea that our line would focus on hand painted and appliqued slip-on Vans, each of which would represent a character in an imaginary land. The name Enchanted Royals stemmed from that idea, too.

Where did the idea for the short films start?

We had been thinking for a while that it would be great to pool our resources of friends who come from varying areas of expertise in the film world to make some ads for our shoes. We asked our friend Carol, who had recently directed her first music video for an upcoming band, to brainstorm some ideas. It all just kind of came about organically; Dara and her boyfriend Chris had just formed their band, Warm Air Telegraph, so the commercials evolved into music videos that strung together into a 3 act series. Carol came up with some amazing plot lines that introduced all our characters in innovative ways. It was so exciting to watch them come to life.

Do you remember when you got your first pairs of Vans?

HALEY: I bought an amazing pair of skull Vans during my first year in LA. The edgy graphic was inspiring to me, being screen printed images on the black canvas.
DARA: I actually bought my first pair in Boston during senior week when we graduated. They were a limited edition pair of turquoise slip-ons with pastel horizontal stripes. I wore them into the ground.

What's next?

In addition to our repertoire of Vans, we've branched out into organic cotton t shirts and tote bags, which we're excited to say are now available on our OUR WEBSTORE. Also, we're going to be having a sale on some designs in discontinued colors (City Girl on purple slip ons and Princess Cupcake on kelly green slip ons) at our Big Cartel site in the very near future. We're also in pre production on a new video that's going to be super exciting and reveal a new character. It will probably be completed in late August. The best way to stay updated is to keep checking the blog! ENCHANTED ROYALS BLOG and ENCHANTED ROYALS DOT COM.