A woman who stands at 6ft 4ins has resorted to making her own range of shoes – because she can’t find any to fit her size 11 feet.
Lofty Caroline Stillman, 23, has been 6ft tall since primary school and was wearing an adult size eight shoe before she was twelve.
Throughout her teens she struggled to find footwear in her size – meaning that while her friends donned glamorous heels, the leggy blonde was left wearing frumpy flats.
Frustrated at the lack of options for tall girls with big feet, Caroline, who wears a size 10 or 11 shoe depending on the shop, decided to take matters into her own hands.
Caroline, whose legs alone are more than 3ft long, studied a fashion course at her local college before enrolling at the London College of Fashion.
Spurred on by the petite, small-footed fashionistas around her, she began thinking up designs for shoes she would love to wear herself but had never been able to.
Now, after years of pining to wear beautiful shoes, determined Caroline has turned her dream into a reality – and will launch her own range of footwear this summer.
The shoes – glitzy, fashionable flats inspired by top designers like Valentino and Christian Dior – will be made in sizes eight to 11 and sold on her website.
Caroline, of Rutland, Leics., said she hopes her shoes will be stocked at fashionable high-street stores like Topshop and Selfridges one day.
She said: “I was really interested in fashion from an early age but I struggled to find nice shoes to go with my outfits.
“I remember going into shoe shops with my mum as a child and trying on size eight adult ladies’ shoes when I was about 10 or 11. It was frustrating.
“If I was going somewhere nice with my girlfriends they would always have really nice shoes. I thought I would never be able to wear or find anything like that.
“I would always have to buy shoes from different websites. There wasn’t a big range of styles and there weren’t any fashionable ones at all.
“They would all be aimed at older women – not teenagers or girly girls, like me.”
After walking through her teenage years in unfashionable footwear, desperate Caroline decided enough was enough.
She said: “I’ve always been into fashion, so I decided to study fashion design at college.
“That was when I realised there was a gap in the market. I started designing and making shoes that I would love to wear myself.
“I thought, if I can make these shoes easily then why can’t I make them for other girls?”
“I’m launching this range because I think everyone deserves to be able to experience wearing a beautiful pair of shoes.
“I hope that I can help bring that dream to life for some people who might find it harder to find shoes like myself.”
Caroline’s height is due to Marfan Syndrome, an inherited chromosomal disorder which can cause heart and eye problems as well as exceptional growth.
Common complications include a leaky and enlarged aortic valve, meaning Caroline is being closely monitored by medics and will one day have to have open heart surgery.
Sufferers also often have extra-long arms and legs, are tall and thin and have long, slender fingers – like the Stillmans.
But though being tall is not unusual in the family – Caroline’s mother, Sarah, stands at 6ft tall and her brother Sam, 24, is 6ft 7ins – she hasn’t always felt normal.
At secondary school, cruel bullies taunted her relentlessly about her height, calling her a “lanky bitch” and “giraffe legs”.
Caroline, who has just graduated from her final year at De Montfort University with a degree in footwear design, said: “I was always tall, always different, even as a little girl.
“In primary school I didn’t have any problems but at secondary school I was teased all the time. Girls would call me lanky and a giant.
“It made me feel so horrible. I didn’t have a problem with how I looked, so it was horrible that other children did.”
The teasing was so severe that Caroline was forced to move from Uppingham Community College in Rutland, Leics., to Stamford Girls School, Lincs.
Since then, single Caroline said most people have been supportive and complimentary, and she was even approached by a model scout about a job on the catwalk.
But the passionate entrepreneur decided she would rathre design shoes than model them and set up Carobella Boutique, in spite of warnings from doubtful tutors.
Her first range, which is set to be unveiled in the coming months, will consist of around 10 pairs of luxury flat shoes for tall women.
“The shoes are all kind of simple. I have got big feet so I don’t really want them to stand out any more than they do already,” she said.
“They are all very elegant and beautiful. I’m so excited to let everyone see them.”
Caroline’s dad, Bill, who is 6ft tall himself, added: “Dealing with the Marfan Syndrome has been really difficult for the family.
“I’m so proud of what Caroline has achieved.”
Visit Caroline’s website at www.carobellaboutique.co.uk. To find out more about Marfan Syndrome visit www.marfan.org.