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Queen of Bows

Written by: Stella Polyzoidou

Aminah Abdul-Jillil—world-class dancer to world-class shoe designer—A career transition not made for walking.

Born in Anchorage, Alaska, the now famous shoe designer started as a ballet dancer at a young age. After graduating from college, she wanted to pursue a career in commercial dance; thus, she moved to Los Angeles and began working as a professional dancer. Her talent led her to perform next to prominent names and big pop stars Britney Spears and Janet Jackson while also becoming a Cirque du Soleil team member. 

Her dancing past was the starting point when she was first exposed to the creative world of costumes, makeup, and fashion. Throughout the years, Jillil traveled worldwide and cultivated an eye for art, design, and fashion. While still performing and working as a dancer, she enrolled in a fashion course at the local college that included illustration, sewing, and color analysis. After accompanying Britney Spears on her world tours, Jillil pivoted to shoe designing and launched her first collection in August 2012. 

Aminah Abdul Jillil

Designing shoes with intricate shapes and distinctive details has always been her second biggest passion. Her shoes stand out with bold accents — oversized bows, chain detailing, and bejeweled ankle straps. What makes Jillil’s designs unique is her excitement to “try something different.” Like every young entrepreneur, she struggled to establish her business but never quit. She is a gleaming example of people starting with small savings and turning them into profitable businesses, confirmed by the brand’s worldwide reputation and global distribution in over 50 countries, including partnerships with premier luxury retailers Harvey Nichols and Level Shoes.

Jillil found it more efficient for her business to give her designs to a very talented shoemaker she discovered; that was the beginning of her brand’s journey. After experimenting, she found her characteristic style: the over-the-top statement bows that you will see on her shoe. Her shoes are a perfect combination of sexiness, class, and comfort! While comfort is not how she defines her collection, she says she’s very picky about the fit of the shoes. One of the reasons her brand is gaining popularity is the fact that Jillil doesn’t compromise quality. The Black female shoe designer is known for her bold design aesthetic that is reflected in her brand. Although her style leans toward a more masculine and edgy look, her shoe designs stand out for their feminine and sexy touch.

“What makes Jillil’s designs unique is her excitement to try something different.”

The Black-owned and Las Vegas-based brand first launched a collection of flat sandals. Taking inspiration from a belt she owned, Jillil’s first shoe design was a flat sandal with a huge buckle strap around the ankle. She then evolved the flat bow sandals into her signature design, the bow pumps. After her husband gave her a beautiful purse with a huge leather bow detail as a birthday gift, she created a pair of sandals with black leather bows around the ankles. Since then, her name has been linked with the cute oversized bows on the shoes. In fact, her first shoe collection was adored by many celebrities, especially Rihanna, who chose to wear one of her designs in the “Where Have You Been” music video.  Given Women’s History Month and the important conversations about equality, supporting brands and entrepreneurs who represent true values and beliefs is now more vital than ever. Despite the increased attention on Black-owned brands and designers, Jillil doesn’t put herself into a box. She declared that what matters the most to her is the passion and effort she puts into her business and the people who can relate to her endeavor. cropped troora favicon 1
Stella Polizoidou
TrooRa Magazine
Written by
Stella Polyzoidou
California, USA
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