Q + A w Miz Mooz

Fun, fashionable, eclectic, edgy, playful, quirky, and comfortable: all can be found in a pair of Miz Moozshoes! Miz Mooz is a family-owned footwear brand that has been loved for its expert combination of posh shades and playful silhouettes for more than two decades. As the Miz Mooz team moved to their new home in Dumbo, we sat down with Ron Kenigsberg and Cheryl Matson to learn about Miz Mooz’s evolution and their future plans in the neighborhood.

{This interview has been edited for length and clarity.}

Left to right, Melissa Jordan, Ron Kenigsberg, Cheryl Matson. Photo credit to Melinda DiMauro.
Left to right, Melissa Jordan, Ron Kenigsberg, Cheryl Matson. Photo credit to Melinda DiMauro.

What is the story behind Miz Mooz? How did you guys start?

Ron: I grew up in a family that had a retail business, and we had stores in Soho. Miz Mooz was the brand that we founded for our own stores. Miz Mooz products were first sold through our stores in the early 2000s until 2004 when we started to sell them to other boutiques and independent specialty stores throughout the country. 

That was the real inception of us: a brand that was known outside of New York. In New York, we launched around 2000-2001. We were in Soho and TriBeCa until last year, and we just moved to Dumbo a year ago.

Your shoes are designed here in New York and then handcrafted in Europe. Can you elaborate on that design journey?

Ron: Here, in our conference room, we put up a board of directions for the next season. That is where it all starts: a roadmap of how we want to evolve the collection from what we have, from this season to the next, in terms of styles, colors, patterns, trends, and materials. And then we work with a designer in Spain to execute those ideas, take what we are seeing and thinking and create drawings. These drawings then make their way to the factories in Portugal and Italy to start the prototypes manufacturing process. These factories are family-owned, small to medium sized businesses that have much control over their supply chain, so their leather is of very high quality and consistency.

I think we have a lot of distinguishing characteristics that help people say: “That’s a Miz Mooz shoe.”

What sets Miz Mooz apart from other shoe stores or other clothing/apparel stores?

Cheryl: So, what we are really known for is our materials and our leather: very good quality and are finished by hand. Our shoes are not the kind of shoes that you will see on everyone. They always have something, in addition to the leather, that is a little special. The attention to the details, I would say, is a big part of it. And all the little extra additions that maybe you wouldn’t think about all work together and make the shoes stand out. We also use a lot of colors, and we have fun with them. Our shoes are not necessarily for those people who just want to fit in. We have a lot of shoes that are for those who look forward to making a statement. And they are super comfortable too! They are very cute and comfortable so you can wear them all day.

Ron: What we are after is having our products being recognized by people without knowing what the brand is. Our shoes don’t have a lot of branding all over them, but people do know and are able to identify them because of the color: we made a whole bunch of shoes in purple. People don’t make shoes in purple, but we do. I think we have a lot of distinguishing characteristics that help people say: “That’s a Miz Mooz shoe.”

After 20 years in Soho, what prompted you to move to Dumbo?

Ron: We had a retail store in Manhattan, and our office was in the back of the store. That was how we operated from day 1. But with Covid, we closed the store, and then we just never reopened it. As a result we ended up moving here, looking for a location that, I think, suited the evolution of our brand. Dumbo is a young, thriving, and energetic area. There are a lot of tech companies here. There are also a lot of people that would be thrilled with our brand, who would want to contribute and partner with us to help us grow. So we thought this is a very good launch point for whatever the next 10 years of this business is going to be.

Cheryl: I would say that it is a silver lining for us, Covid. It gave us the opportunity to leave the place we were in that maybe we wouldn’t have...

Ron: ...and envision a space that really helps us with where we want to go. I think this really fits our new needs as we are evolving more into a direct-to-consumer e-commerce brand, moving away from brick and mortar retail, focusing on our wholesale account and our specialties stores more than we did in the past. And I think this environment really facilitates all of that with different teams working together in an open, motivating space.

We want to be trendy, we want to be fashionable, and we want to be cool, but we also want to be wearable, because that is so important, being in New York.

Show us your favourite product!

Ron: Everybody wants the Louise.

Cheryl: The Louise gets all of our “Miz Mooz things”. The most prominent features are the buttons. We have always done buttons for years and years and years. Our customers love our button: put a button on anything and they want it. The leather on the Louise is super super soft, with really nice lining. And then for the color, you don’t see a lot of this color. All of these furnishings were done by hand, which really shows the dimensions of the leather. So these are our best shoes and therefore our favorite shoes of the season!

Ron: For this type of product, the concept has always been “shoes that you can wear”. We want to be trendy, we want to be fashionable, and we want to be cool, but we also want to be wearable, because that is so important, being in New York. That is a big part of our ethos, “shoes to be worn”.

The Louise
The Louise

Last question, where is your favorite spot in Dumbo?

Cheryl: Gran Eléctrica.

Ron: and Superfine.

Cheryl: Gran Eléctrica has a beautiful garden, and Ron had his birthday there. For Superfine, I had a friend who used to be a bartender at Superfine in the early 2000s. I remember visiting the restaurant after we moved here and thinking: “Oh, wait, I know this place!”. So I’ve been to the place many many years ago.

Mentioned in this article

Gran Electrica Superfine