Rising Star ACE Award Winner Larroudé

Fashion and business are the perfect fit.
By Rosanne Robinson

For Marina and Ricardo Larroudé, partners in life and business, finding a new career path was a happy accident born out of the circumstances of the pandemic. In November 2020, they launched Larroudé, a primarily DTCfocused shoe brand with a designer luxury aesthetic at a moderate contemporary price point. Today, at just 3 ½ years old, Larroudé has already garnered global recognition, selling 250,000 pairs of shoes a year and tracking its goal to reach $100,000,000 in sales by 2025.

“During the pandemic, I realized that a job won’t make you feel safe; everyone can get fired. Marina was, and then I was on furlough; safe is driving your future,” said Ricardo from inside the brand’s headquarters on East 56th Street.


“It was the first time in my career that I thought, ‘What am I going to do now?’ There was no freelance consulting work or even a chance to network,” Marina added. “I did think if I ever needed to revamp myself when all doors are closed, I will do my own thing.

Though the couple — with 40 years of experience between them — had never considered working on a project together, the unprecedented turn of events during Covid got them thinking. “I said, ‘Let's do this and make some money, not do it just as a vanity project,’” said Ricardo.

Thus, Larroudé was hatched on their dining room table drawing upon Marina’s experience with product, consumer needs, and editorial trends — gained from her years at Teen Vogue, Style.com, and Barney’s New York, where she had a hand in the retailer’s private label shoe business — and Ricardo’s unique outsider perspective drawn from a career as an investment banker, venture capitalist, value investor, and business designer/ operator.

“If you look at some great fashion partners, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge, Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti, Marc Jacobs and Robert Duffy, each had a role. There is no such thing as fashion business. There is business, and there is fashion,” Ricardo added, noting creative people shouldn’t have to understand the business nuts and bolts inside and out. Another essential business partnership trait is trust and values, which the couple already shared in life.

“It was chaos the first two years,” Marina recalled. But the spunky and stylish shoes that didn't cost a paycheck were a hit out of the gate. “Price point doesn’t tell you the product is great. If I throw an overthe-top event for my shoes, does that make them look expensive? Luxury is about having the best shoe without paying through the roof.” At the time, there were plenty of DTC contemporary-priced clothing brands, but nothing matched the aesthetic and quality of Larroudé within the footwear category. Targeting a gap between the Aldo’s and Jimmy Choo’s of the world, the couple priced most of their collection between $290 and $350. The brand typically only goes on sale once a year on its anniversary. Running lean without top-heavy executive positions is also an asset. “We are bootstrap at Larroudé. I’m an outsider; people say, ‘We don’t do it like that, or it doesn’t work like that,’ and I reply, ‘I’m not everyone.’’ Indeed, Ricardo’s superpower is approaching the industry without any preconceived notions or pitfalls.

While founded in New York City, the bulk of Larroudé operations are based in Brazil, where the couple is from initially. Ten staff members in Sao Paolo run the business and finance operations; in the Southern Vale de Sinos region (the shoemaking area), the factory operates with approximately 70 employees and another 30 or so in creative, graphics and logistics. Brand leadership, marketing and communications takes place in the Manhattan office, with Ricardo, Marina and a staff of three.


This swiftness of production is owed to its Brazilian factory, which opened in November 2022 in Sapiranga, RS. The company-owned facility effectively cut out third-party production and distributors, lowering costs and allowing Larroudé to offer an advantageous value proposition without creating excess inventory.

Once a style is created and the SKU is launched, the in-house team can photograph the shoe and promote it on the site and social media before it’s even produced. “We didn't invent preorder. We have a style, the Inez, where we sold 300 pairs in red before it was actual inventory because we aren’t waiting on factories and suppliers to make it,” Marina explained. “Many people have great products but not necessarily great businesses.” The Inez style, for example, was originally launched as a slingback kitten heel shoe and has been expanded into a mule, high heel, and flat all available in several materials and colors.

Pandemic-era habits paid off in marketing, as did Marina’s social media presence and connections with editors, stylists, and wholesalers. “We approach marketing by creating a genuine image and not by faking it…we want to inspire,” Ricardo explained.

The feed is a mix of light-hearted campaign photo shoots, clever inhouse editorials, customers and VIPs shown wearing the shoes, behind the-scenes glimpses of the factory and brand events, and a peek into Marina’s world, from her beauty and fitness routines to her favorite things, many of which end up for sale on the brand’s website.

“We don't take ourselves too seriously,” Marina quipped, noting that Larroudé is serious about inclusivity, offering styles ranging in size from 5 to 13, for ages 18 to 70. The shoes also come with quirky and charming details, such as a QR code on each shoe that functions as a clever loyalty program to earn reward points toward further purchases, branded nail files, and stickers. The editorial message is also relayed in a printed newspaper released yearly.

In its brief existence, the brand has already had several vital collaborations — testimony to Marina’s industry relationships — including with New York brand Jonathan Cohen, Jennifer Fisher, the jellies maker Melissa, and Altuzarra, which will debut a second evening wear-centric collection soon. “The Jennifer Fisher boots sold very well; we sold $200,000 in two hours. I hadn’t seen a selling day like this anywhere,” Marina noted.

Currently, the business is split between DTC and wholesale, but it anticipates that it will be 75% DTC and 25% third party retailers at the current growth rate. “Having a retailer say your product is great is better than the brand saying it’s great,” Ricardo added. The shoes are available at 150 retail partners, including Bloomingdale’s, Saks, Galeries Lafayette, and Nordstrom, which will open 93 doors in May and launch a shoe department takeover.

There have already been exciting moments, too, with Salma Hayek, Demi Moore, Lady Gaga, Alicia Keys, and Lizzo stepping out in Larroudé. Perhaps the most critical moment was when First Lady Jill Biden carried a handbag from a special capsule collection. Marina wants to add this to the brand’s lineup but still seeks production to meet exacting standards within the price bracket. Ricardo envisions offshoot brands to cover the men’s market as well.

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Momentum right now is strong. They’ve just wrapped up a collaboration with the Rosewood Le Guanahani and another with artist Gabriela Noelle, been nominated for a Fast Company award, and are planning to open a second factory soon while adding a new high summer drop, and revamping the Larroudé website. Marina was also included on Inc. Magazine’s Female Founders 250 list for 2024. “Our visibility outside our ecosystem is about to grow,” Ricardo said.

The company motto “You, Us, We, All” acknowledges the entire team and their commitment. “It means through individuality, we are all a part of the business,” he added.

It’s tough to beat Larroudé in terms of design, quality, and price. For context of its scale, the company has produced more shoes than a legacy designer Italian shoe brand, which took 17 years to sell 200,000 pairs; thus, growth potential is imminent. “I don't want just one design point of view; I want to create a bigger shoe world like Barney’s department store through collaborations, so the selection is like a magazine with different themes,” Marina mused. “I want to be a Gen Z Manolo Blahnik.” Just with a price point everyone can get behind.