The Man Behind Women’s Shoes

TRIBECA, NYC— Paul Auersperg towers over most with his six-four frame and larger than life personality. Who would’ve thought that this imposing, ex football jock from Long Island would be so passionate about the daintiness and intricacies of women’s heels? Nevertheless, that is certainly the case. Paul is the man behind shoe designers such as Sam Edelman, Steve Madden and many others. As the chief executive officer of Fortune Footwear since 2006, Auersperg leads a highly successful global company with customers around the world. Fortune Footwear Inc. is a private label women’s footwear and handbag sourcing, design and distribution company. His company is based on a three-pillar philosophy: fashion styling and diversity, quality, and customer satisfaction. The company strives to produce successful and lasting products at all price points, achieve the highest standards and is devoted to building long-lasting partnerships for mutual success. Auersperg grew up in Merrick, Long Island. He graduated from the College at Brockport, State University of New York with a Bachelor of Science in Business and Administration with a concentration in marketing and a minor in Asian history. Auersperg’s father, John H. Auersperg founded Fortune Footwear in 1985 and opened its first New York City showroom in SoHo. Paul joined the company in 1987 after graduating college and since then has continued to enhance the company. Paul Auersperg took over as CEO after the passing of his father and currently runs his business on Hudson Street in Tribeca. He said he followed his father’s footsteps because of the unlimited growth potential he had for success. Auersperg explained that one of his most influential mentors in life was his father. “My father taught me about credibility, humility, honesty and hardwork,” he said. Furthermore, Auersperg is always looking for new opportunites. He is motivated to apply creative solutions to a challenging retail environment. He said, “I want to use my sourcing and merchandising skills and utilize Fortune’s abilities to identify my customers’ needs.” Auersperg’s company deals with many accounts such as, Steve Madden, Sam Edelman, Express, Nine West, Bandolino, Torrid, David’s Bridal and JustFab. One of Fortune’s most recent success stories is the Steve Madden’s Stecy ankle strap heel. It was Auersperg and his team who produced the iconic heel. At first, the shoe just came in basic black and natural colors. However, now the shoe continues to be rebought by Steve Madden in various other colors and materials. Whether the Stecy is featured in metallics or floral prints, the heel will forever be timeless. When Auersperg comes into the office in the morning he makes an effort to say hello to everyone in the office. He makes his rounds up and down the cubicles and tries to touch base with everyone. “Paul is one of the best bosses and CEOs I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with and learn from. He is involved in the day to day and truly cares about every relationship he makes along the way,” said Arianna, an account manager at Fortune Footwear. Not only is he passionate about women’s shoes, but he also loves to teach people and watch them grow. “Not many CEO’s are going to take you under their wing and show you the ropes of the industry,” said Kristen, an intern at Fortune Footwear. “But Paul, went above and beyond making sure I was learning everything I could.” As an intern, Kristen was brought into meetings where she was able to meet the famous shoe designers Sam Edelman and Steve Madden. Also, Auersperg is an Advisory Board Member to the Business School at SUNY Brockport. Two weeks ago, he invited students from Brockport to the Fortune Footwear office and spoke to them about his knowledge and expertise in the industry. Every so often, he goes upstate to Brockport to speak to students there too. In addition, Auersperg gives back to his local community. This past year, he opened up a sports bar and restaurant called Arooga’s in Patchogue on Long Island. The restaurant encourages local charities and organizations to fundraise at the restaurant. Arooga’s offers 15% of sales from every customer invited. The weekend before Thanksgiving, Auersperg and his restaurant hosted a fundraiser for the Salvation Army. With raffles baskets and 50/50 tickets going around, they were able to raise $17 thousand dollars for the Salvation Army. On a daily basis Auersperg tries to plan long and short-term goals. He said, “I work hard to achieve those goals and if I don’t achieve those goals, I want to learn why and get better.” He stresses that the formula for success is the “plan-do-review.” He lives his life with this motto; he plans things and if it doesn’t work out the way he intended, he tries something different until it’s right. That is why he is such a success. This article was written by Fortune’s very own, Megan Davis