Reported Robert Stitt
It’s not every day that you hear of somebody walking away from a billion-dollar business. Then again, it’s not every day that you meet a Tamara Mellon.
Mellon is the creator/founder and ex-face of Jimmy Choo, the extravagant stiletto shoe line that became a must-have after being featured on shows such as “Sex in the City.” Her shoes would sell for upwards of $500 and $600 a pair, and she could sell them out in a night. She lived the lifestyle of the rich and famous, but found that being one of the wealthiest women in England didn’t make her one of the happiest.
Mellon’s father was the co-founder of Vidal Sassoon and her mother was a Chanel model. She grew up in Beverly Hills until she was old enough to go to English boarding school, and later a Swiss finishing school that catered to the likes of Princess Diana.
Starting at the bottom is the perfect way for a success story to start, and despite her elite upbringing, Mellon started off selling T-shirts and then got a job at a PR firm. She eventually moved into writing for a woman’s magazine that is no longer in publication before she got her break as the accessories editor for British Vogue.
Working for British Vogue, Mellon often found herself in need of custom shoes, and quickly. She was introduced to a man from Malaysia who was working in London. He was masterful and efficient. His name: Jimmy Choo. Word soon got out that Choo was the one making the shoes that Mellon needed for her Vogue sets, and his reputation began to build.
Late nights and wild partying eventually cost Mellon her job at British Vogue, but she still had contact with her shoe-making wizard. Celebrity Net Worth notes that after rehab, Mellon borrowed $234,840 from her parents to create a business partnership with Choo. The Jimmy Choo line was launched in 1996.
Choo and Mellon found success, and within five years, their shoes were in every high-end store in Europe and America. The two did not see eye-to-eye on many things, however. For instance, Choo thought the heels on the shoes were just too high. Mellon and her father bought out Choo’s share in the company for $13 million with the help of Phoenix Equity Partners. Part of the agreement was that Choo could not talk about the company.
By 2011, the company was worth over $27 million. It was during this time that Mellon met her husband, Thomas Mellon II, at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting.
Over the next few years, things spiraled out of control. The company was traded from equity firm to equity firm. Her marriage was on the rocks since her husband slipped in and out of drug use. She had a well-publicized affair, had a child, and then was involved in a high publicity divorce. Despite the craziness, she still lived the jet-set lifestyle, and the company continued to grow. In 2011, it was worth over $900 million.
Things got worse after her father died. She sued her mother for $7 million and they don’t speak to this day. When the company was sold to yet another equity firm, Labelux, Mellon resigned.
Don’t feel bad for her, though. Mellon walked away with nearly $300 million, is now engaged to Michael Ovitz of Disney fame, and is starting a clothing line. She travels extensively with her daughter and is still friends with her ex-husband, who is newly married.