Fashion footwear mogul Steve Madden will return to his Long Island roots for an appearance at a shoe store in Woodbury next week.
Madden, the man behind the shoe and lifestyle brand, will hold a meet and greet at Jildor Shoes, 7945 Jericho Tpke., Woodbury, from 3 to 4 p.m. on Sept. 13. The shoe titan, raised in the Five Towns, will pose for photos and give autographs during one of his more than dozen yearly nationwide appearances.
"It feels good to go back home," said Madden, who recalls going to Atlantic Beach for summer fun. "People have been wearing my shoes for so long they feel that they know me. I am part of their closet and part of their lives."
Madden, 56, of Manhattan, built a tiny Queens shoe business into a world-famous purveyor of trendy footwear and accessories for women, men and children. The Long Island City-based company bearing his name operates 124 retail stores, including five on Long Island.
"We just want to get better all the time," said Madden, now creative and design chief of the shoe empire he founded in 1990. "Not necessarily bigger, but better. Better shoes, better customer service and better stores."
Madden worked at a number of shoe stores before starting his own, including Jildor's first location in Cedarhurst for two years after graduating from Lawrence High School in 1975.
"I am grateful for Jildor's for giving me my start," Madden said. "It's where I learned my business."
Madden was linked to Lake Success-based brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont's "pump and dump" stock scheme, one of the most recent notorious Wall Street scams masterminded by Jordan Belfort. Madden's childhood friend Daniel Porush co-founded the investment firm that gave him shares in initial public offerings that he traded illegally.
Madden served 30 months of a 41-month prison sentence after pleading guilty in May 2001 to conspiracy to commit money laundering and securities fraud. Besides jail time, Madden forked over several million dollars in restitution. His role was documented in "The Wolf of Wall Street," a movie about Stratton Oakmont, directed by Martin Scorsese and staring Leonardo DiCaprio.
"It was a long time ago," said Madden, a married father of three. "I keep things in the moment. I have a new life, and I have to keep moving. One learns from one's mistake in the past and goes forward."
The Sept. 13 event will be hosted by TV personality Julissa Bermudez, of the Style Network's series "Empire Girls." Spectators will have the chance to win a pair of Steve Madden shoes. VIP access will be given to customers making a Steve Madden purchase between Sept. 6 and 13.