My Secret Life: Emma Hope, shoe designer, 41

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The house I grew up in... was a long and narrow Tudor cottage in Surrey, set two miles from the nearest village. There was a yew tree in the garden that you could hide inside.

When I was a child I wanted to be... Junior Miss World. I read a feature on the entrants when I was little and saw that they got to wear terrific dresses and pointy shoes and I just thought that was as good as it got.

The moment that changed me for ever... was reading a book about LSD when I was at primary school. There was a picture of a man jumping out of a window because he thought he could fly, and I decided then I would never take drugs.

My greatest inspiration... was my father, who was the kindest, most gallant man. He would always laugh when presented with insurmountable problems and could help you solve any problems of your own.

My real-life villain... is the architect who designs the skyscrapers on the south bank of the Thames between Vauxhall and Wandsworth. They look like overblown gin palaces, with hateful glass façades. And whoever designed airport buggies that sound like a mobile burglar alarm.

If I could change one thing about myself... I'd be better at delegating. Sometimes when you do everything by yourself you can end up feeling quite alone. I should probably accept other people's help more.

At night I dream of... looming deadlines or sometimes of people I haven't seen for a long time, which I look forward to.

What I see when I look in the mirror... is someone who looks a bit worried and would like to know "the answer".

My style icon... is my mother. She was a fashion editor in the Fifties and went to Paris for all the shows. When my sister and I were little she took us to Kids in Gear in Carnaby Street, bought us satin shirts with floppy collars, and velvet flares. We thought we were it.

My favourite item of clothing... a black feather jacket.

I wish I'd never worn... leggings.

It's not fashionable but I like... Ilfracombe, the seaside resort on the north coast of Devon. And Kentucky Fried Chicken.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at... making prawn cocktails and cottage pie.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... swimming in the sea when I can't touch the bottom. I hate that feeling of not knowing what's underneath.

All my money goes on... speculating in order to accumulate.

If I have time to myself... I visit car-boot sales and read obscure P G Wodehouse stories, preferably with the sun on my back.

I ride... a bicycle when in London, and in the countryside, my little horse called Flash.

My house is... not very big, but I've just found a beautiful house by the sea.

My most valuable possession is... my horse. I've had him for 12 years and we go out on Bodmin Moor where he likes jumping up on to rocks and over gorse bushes.

My favourite building... in London, the Serpentine Lido café – I'd like to live there. And the gardener's lodge just inside the south gates of Hyde Park. Or a beach hut that was built into the side of a sand dune in Hawaii.

Movie heaven... is a black and white like Vigo's L'Atalante; or one with Jean Harlow; Day for Night by Truffaut; or Napoleon Dynamite; or anything with John Wayne, especially his last one where at the end he jumps a five-bar fence and shouts at the camera, "See an old man ride".

A book that changed me... Practical Criticism by I A Richards. My brother said it would help me form rational arguments for English Literature A levels. It didn't work, so I chose to pursue shoe-making rather than English.

My favourite work of art... is anything by Bryan Winter. He was an artist in the Sixties and Seventies who made boxes with dangling convex or concave glass, which are like endlessly fascinating moving kaleidoscopes.

The last album I bought/downloaded... Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

The people who really makes me laugh... are Father Ted, Ken Campbell, Simon Munnery and John Hegley.

The shops I can't walk past... is Miu Miu and John Sandoe Books, an independent book shop in Chelsea.

The best invention ever... Skype.

In 10 years' time, I hope to be... making clothes, bags and jewellery, have 10 shops, have gone to India, have had 10 holidays, be good at skiing, golf and surfing, and have played tennis a lot.

My life in seven words... planes, trains, shoes, money, seaside, hunting, bluegrass.

Born in 1967 in Portsmouth, the shoe designer Emma Hope studied at Cordwainers College in east London. Tipped as a hot British talent, alongside John Galliano, by Harper's and Queen in the year of her graduation, she started her career designing ballet pumps for Laura Ashley. She then worked for Betty Jackson and Jean Muir before opening her first shop in Islington, north London. She moved production to Italy and designed a range for Paul Smith in 2002, opening two more shops, one in Sloane Square and another in Notting Hill. She shares her time between west London and Cornwall. Her spring/summer collection is in store now, and she has also designed the shoes for the Chinese opera Slippery Mountain which opens 18 March at the New World restaurant, London W1