The beginning of an adventure In 1936 Søren and Evelyn Friis started a production of shoes for children in an old stable on Vibevej in the northwest area of Copenhagen. A few years after starting the company they decided to expand by also making women’s shoes, an investment that paid off and shortly became the primary business for Fransi A/S, today with Billi Bi as their main brand.
Quality and craftsmanship has always been core values for the Friis Family. But back in the 1930's when Søren and Evelyn were starting up, there was a shortage of classic leather materials. This, however, did not hold back the hard-working couple, it only drove them to be more creative using different kinds of fish-skin for the shoe production. Søren and Evelyn made everything from flounder and eel to lumpfish and catfish into fashionable designer shoes. The shoes were made on roomy lasts with rounded toes, in douche colours, giving the shoes an elegant and exclusive Italian look. Today the old designs can be seen in exhibitions at Brede Museum. Second generation Carl Friis, son of Søren and Evelyn, was destined to dedicate his life to making shoes. As a child he helped out in the factory and in 1956 when he turned 16 he started his training as a shoemaker in the factory. With diligence and curiosity he learned the art of shoemaking from scratch, on the side he attended evening classes in Economics and Italian. When Carl had learned all he could about shoemaking in his parents’ factory he went to Italy to study the art of shoe design and construction at the prestigious school ARS SUTORIA. Here he excelled by graduating “Modellista – Tagliatore” with the highest grade given that year (9 out of 10). He extended his stay in Italy to work for 6 months in an Italian shoe factory. Carls drawing skills were excellent and during his stay in Italy he drew numerous designs and sent them home to Denmark. His Italian endeavours were an invaluable experience, which have continued to inspire him to this day. Carl was praised in the Italian Fashion Press and in the 6o's considered a member of the Danish fashion elite. In charge today are Carl and Carsten Friis – son and grandson of the founders. Wholesale SALES DENMARK ANNETTE JENSEN TLF.: +45 22 30 01 89 E-MAIL: ANNETTE@BILLIBI.DK INTERNATIONAL SALE DENMARK NADINE GUNNI WINTHER TLF.: +45 27 12 02 94 E-MAIL: NADINE@BILLIBI.DK GERMANY MONICA CARAMIA E.K. / CARAMIA FASHION FAVOURITES TLF.: +49 211 8756 4960 E-MAIL: INFO@CARAMIA-FF.COM SWEDEN LARS LARSSON TLF.: +46 705 11 55 53 E-MAIL: LARS@BILLIBI.COM NORWAY KATHRINE RITARI TLF.: +47 90 10 92 80 EMAIL: KATHRINE@NEWSHOES.NO FRANCE SHOWROOM C / KISS & FLY VALERIE ROLLIER TLF.: +33 140 28 47 13 E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org Photo credit: Billi Bi