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In the years since Rachel Bilson turned mega-star thanks to a role as popular girl Summer on The O.C., she's become an icon off-screen for her effortlessly cool style. Bilson and her stylist Nicole Chavez have, smartly, turned that reputation into a burgeoning business with shoe-of-the-month site ShoeMint. Racked sat down with the duo at The London in West Hollywood over the weekend to talk about their newly-launched styles and the trials and tribulations of being a size 5 shoe.
What inspired the latest collection?
Rachel: Well, the first collection was definitely more specific. It started off that we had three different styles and as the months go on we're going to have more and more. So it was a little limited in the first few collections but now we've been able to expand and we have many more styles and it's more versatile. It was important to have a shoe for every woman.
We started with Steve Madden. He's the manufacturer and he had a big influence on the first couple collections.
Nicole: I mean he's the shoe expert.
What do you look for when you're buying shoes? Are you a style-over-function type of person, or is comfort important to you?
Rachel: It just depends. We both have so many different kinds of shoes. But we're definitely fans of crazy shoes, color, styles that will make an outfit.
Nicole: Statement shoes. We love statement shoes. I think we'll always try to have a strong statement in every collection. Like the Jolly leopard [bootie]—really bold colors or fabrics that you can just wear jeans and a T-shirt with and it makes your outfit. Comfort for me has become huge just since I've been pregnant. I really look at shoes a lot differently.
If you had to estimate, about how many pairs of shoes are in your closet right now?
Rachel: Well, I sort of have a problem where I don't get rid of shoes so I've collected quite a few pairs over the past few years. A lot of vintage, stuff from high school, just things you can't get rid of. It's kind of grown my closet into a shoe closet. I couldn't say how many. I just got rid of three garbage bags full of shoes. That is huge for me. Actually, they're not out of my house yet but they are in the bags to go. They'll be going to Goodwill.
Nicole: I'm a 6 1/2 or a 7 so I can usually share shoes with my friends.
Rachel: I'm a 5 so most designers don't even make my size. They start at six. There's a few. And they go fast because they [don't produce] that many.
Nicole: That's why we wanted to start at size 5 and end at 11.
When you travel, what shoes do you pack and why?
Rachel: I always have a basic little bootie of sorts—I have these Rag & Bone boots [the Newbury in black]. They're amazing. They're comfortable, they go with everything. It depends on where I'm going. If it's hot you have to have a good sandal and a heel.
Nicole: Shoes take up a lot of space. I'm like super-organized packer girl. [Rachel: Yeah, she's crazy. She has every outfit planned.] I plan outfits so I can have one shoe to go with all different looks.
Rachel: I can't do that. I have to have options.
Red carpet heels: Are they hard to walk in?
Nicole: Samples are not that comfortable.
Rachel: I'm a five so I have to wear shoes that are too big, you know, stuffed with a footpad. Now that we have ShoeMint it's so nice because we have all these staples we know we can wear.
· ShoeMint [Official Site]