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11/13/2012 at 09:00 AM ET

rachel bilson 600x450 How Rachel Bilson Finds Footwear Inspiration
Courtesy ShoeMint

When Rachel Bilson and stylist Nicole Chavez launched footwear e-tailer ShoeMint last November, they definitely weren’t thinking about how they’d celebrate the site’s first year. But time flies.

The ladies hosted an intimate brunch at Laurel Hardware in West Hollywood over the weekend, celebrating the one-year anniversary of ShoeMint. “We are so proud of everything that we create,” Bilson tells PEOPLE. Friends of the design duo, including Bilson’s Hart of Dixie costar Jaime King, Lauren Conrad, makeup artist Amy Nadine and stylists Emily Current and Meritt Elliott, all gathered on the charming patio of the L.A. hot spot to toast the talents.

So just how do the designers keep their creations fresh month after month? “I find design inspiration in street style, magazines and movies,” explains Bilson. “I love to see how people on the street throw things together. I also appreciate the skill and creativity that goes into the work of professional stylists — like Nicole! We have a constant dialogue about what we see that inspires us and what is missing from our closets.”

Bilson, a self-described shoe addict (but a petite size 5!), counts the ‘Melissa’ as her all-time favorite ShoeMint design. “The low-heeled bootie is so chic and versatile,” she says. But a perk of the job is trying every shoe — and sharing the goods with friends and family.

“It’s so nice to have that support,” Bilson says, noting that her mom wears her creations. “I love to see it worn by the people I love!”

–Jennifer Garcia

SHOP HOLLYWOOD’S HOTTEST SHOES — FOR LESS!

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