Founder of Canadian label redefines shoe shopping by heel height

Aug 18 2020, 8:22 pm

Ropa Mupambwa moved to Calgary from Zimbabwe 12 years ago.

When she started working in the city, her first job was at the mall, because she was drawn to fashion, styling, and working with different fabrics.

But Mupambwa, the founder of Celyn Roze, was driven to add something different to the fashion world.

“When I started selling clothes, I wanted my brand to be different. I wanted something unique and to solve a problem as well,” she told Daily Hive.

The designer noticed that many shoes on the market were missing height options, and stores would either sell one or two variations. Mupambwa wanted to sell five options so women could pick and choose what they wanted without being limited in choice.


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“I noticed that people would end up wearing the wrong heel height, or they just ended up not buying shoes because they don’t have the right heel height,” she said.

“I wanted to fill in the gap in this challenging day.”

Mupambwa noted how women go through stages in life, from having children to growing older, and through these times, they need their heel height to change.

In 2019, this led her to launch Celyn Roze with the vision of designing shoes in five different heel heights: flats, 3.5 cm, 6 cm, 9 cm, and 12 cm.


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When it comes to design and quality fabrics, Mupambwa goes with unique yet timeless styles that people can pair with outfits they already have, during any season. She describes her brand as “the opposite of fast fashion.”

All Celyn Roze shoes have a signature orange sole and a cushioned insert so that wearers can benefit from the comfort of extra padding (something we’ve all been waiting for).


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Mupambwa credits her mom, whose name is Celyn Roze, as a massive inspiration for her journey in the fashion industry.

“My mom has a sleek fashion background, and she did a little bit of tailoring back home,” she said.

“She used to do ready-to-wear outfits and wedding dresses. She even made her own wedding dress.”

The designer noted that her grandma did crocheting, too.

Growing up, Mupambwa was surrounded by fashion, markets, and fabrics. This year, she fulfilled her long-time goal of opening her first store at Calgary’s Chinook Centre. “It has always been a dream of mine to open a store, and for people to come in and try on something.”


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She explained the level of excitement that comes with seeing people be “wowed” by her creations. “It was nice to see my idea come to life, and for people to have that in-store experience to feel the products.”

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has presented challenges for the designer in terms of shipment delays. She hoped to host a pop-up shop ahead of her store’s opening, but it simply wasn’t possible.

“[The coronavirus] stalled all the big plans that I had. We went through a storm,” she said.

With capacity restrictions now in place at the Celyn Roze Calgary store, Mupambwa said that customers are adapting well by patiently waiting for their turn inside.


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The Celyn Roze designer said there aren’t many women designers in Calgary that make footwear and handbags, and she’s happy to be one of the few. She believes that Canadian fashion is missing a “dressy” factor, and this is something she hopes to target with her brand.

“People mostly buy heels to wear on special occasions and then display them after. That’s why I wanted to have the five heel heights, so you can wear your high heels and your flats, and all those other lower heels on your casual days.”

Pursuing a career in fashion design comes with obstacles, especially during a pandemic. But Mupambwa says no idea is ever not good enough.

“Make your idea into something tangible, and don’t let other people discourage you from the idea that you have.”

She continued, “If you share your idea with five people they might not get it, but you don’t know what the world might think. Vancouver, Montreal, Nanaimo, New York… all those places — they might be ready for your idea.”

Catriona HughesCatriona Hughes

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