The Community Market for Makers & Shakers on Saturday, October 14th was my first live shoe event. Hosted by NextFab in North Philadelphia as part of DesignPhiladelphia, I had a great day of feedback, networking and fun and oh yeah a few sales.
My second generation RoxAnneLava Signature samples in whole sizes 5-11 debuted to the public. I offered 2 options for orders, my holiday leather collection in black or cranberry patent/silver or cranberry crackle/ gold or red metallic, OR a new offering of up-cycled leathers that are waste materials from a furniture manufacturer in black/red/brown. My 1st generation Signature prototypes, 3 sample pairs and logo tees were also available. It was great to have people see, try on and react to my shoes.
These events are always best for exposure and networking and Saturday did not disappoint. I gained about a dozen new email subscribers, sold some product, got some ideas and feedback and connections on the shoes from people who don’t know me and met some new potential partners for a couple of really interesting initiatives.
I’ve been a maker and had making businesses for most of my adult life. It’s great to watch this new one grow. I am pleased with the positive response. It’s gratifying to work toward my personal and professional goals. A day like Saturday validates I am on the right path.
Meet Pixie a pointed-toe flat mule, created on a vintage 1980 last (Ah memories of my wanton youth). Pixie is my first foray into working with soling weight leather. What an experience. The leather I have is thick with a veg tan finish. I think it will make for a sturdy sole, but boy is it hard to cut. After using my scalpel (too weak), a 45mm rotary cutter and leather scissors (both hard to control on curves and often crushed rather than cut) and my regular utility knife, I was defeated.
I couldn’t imagine how I would be able to do it. My hands hurt and were a bit numb. I wallowed in self-doubt and self-pity for about a minute and then did what any self-respecting maker would do – I went took a tour on the internet to see what I could dig up. Someone suggested an Olfa Heavy Duty Utility knife with heavy duty break off blades. Thanks to Amazon Prime, I got my new knife/blades, a 60mm rotary cutter and blades for the 60mm and 45mm the next day. I also got an electric rotary cutter, but I haven’t tried it yet.
The rough edge gave me an opportunity to learn about edge finishing. The insole on this baby is another piece of lighter weight leather. Between the 2 pieces and the heel, I was able to learn to bevel edges, sand and burnish edges. I got to experiment with my Dremel tool which proved to be a life saver.
This shoe is 4 component pieces and again I was working with all cement construction. I knew I wanted a nice finished edge to the upper so I got to incorporate topline tape and I repeated that folded edge that mimics a sewn edge with the construction. Here you can see the folded top edge and skived edges of the upper ready to be glued over the last to the French Beveled insole. ( Another tool in my tool kit!)
Several wrappings and edge finishings later Pixie debuted. Even with a few warts (I need to get the upper flatter to connect more seamlessly with the sole), I love her shape, style and spunk. She’s mine to test as we transition into Fall. I definitely need some more work on cutting veg tan sole material and finishing these edges. The only way to get better is to do it, so I carry on.
Recycling experiment: What would I get if I took apart a shoe I didn’t like so much and a Betsey Johnson hand bag that didn’t cut it and created a new shoe? This is the question I asked myself in June as the Shoe Symposium grew closer. I hadn’t made any shoes in over year and I was determined to make something so I could get back into making and get some feedback as well.
I started by breaking down a very inexpensive pair of sandals. The wedge fit well, but I never liked the upper. No problem. I had a Betsey Johnson hand bag that had great leather and hardware, but I hated the style. So I broke that down as well.
I knew I wanted to use cork for the insole. I like a slightly textured insole so my feet don’t slip. I used cement to cover the insoles and some clamps to help keep them tight while they dried.
Next, I prepared straps. Some went through vintage buckles. Others had hardware. I explored the potential on forms:
And on feet:
I made my final choice and put it all together:
These were entered into competition at the Shoe symposium primarily for feed back. I knew there were quite a few mistakes, but I wanted to pros to tell me what they saw, both good and bad. The critics did NOT know these were recycled.
As with all design critique, I got quite a range. On the craft side, I needed to work on my insole and outsole alignment and getting my straps symmetrical on both feet. Other comments included a discussion of leather to hardware weight and I had worn them too much for competition (these were recycled soles).
The critics were split on the cork insole cover. (I used this because I wanted to work with cork.) One critic loved the juxtaposition of cork with the metallic. One critic said the cork was too casual with the metallic. One critic did not comment.
I am thankful for the feedback and continue to work to correct the craft issues with each pair I make. I’m proudof the aesthetics and I’m happy to wear them. This recycling experiment makes me happy. I have the style shoe I like with the leather and hardware that suits me. These are truly greater than the sum of their parts.
I am black patent crazy. Over the past year I’ve purchased 4 pairs of black patent boots to add to my collection bringing my total to 5. Why you ask? Black patent is one of the most versatile shoe materials ever. It adds a bit of shine to any daytime outfit and glamor to any evening or special occasion attire. It works well in all weather needing just a quick wipe down with a damp cloth and mild soap if necessary. Scuffs and scratches can be removed with special purpose cleaners on the market. Over time, it may loose the high shine, but it will maintain an interesting rubbery look. This black patent go go, Cynira at ShoeDazzle is on point at about $39 for VIPs.
True patent leather starts with a fine grain leather that is coated to create a glossy finish. Imitations are poromeric imitation leathers like Dupont’s Corfam. Whether you choose real or imitation you can’t go wrong with this addition to your wardrobe.
Here is an excellent choice for Men:
As my friend Phil Silverstone says, “Just bought these amazing Converse high top black patent sneaks for an upcoming tux event and then to wear with my white Levi’s in the summer…”
I love gifting, especially self-gifting and of course I buy myself shoes. I took a break from the hustle and bustle of the season to browse my two favorite local shoe shops for a little holiday retail therapy. First stop, Benjamin Lovell shoes , home of comfort brands and the best kept secret sale in the back of their South Street store. This is my favorite place for a great brand at a fantastic price. Pickin’s were slim, probably because they were coming off a 20% off sale.
So on I went to my fave fashion shoe shop, Bus Stop Boutique. London born owner Elena Brennan curates the BEST brands with just the right amount of interest and edge, John Fluevog, Miista, United Nude, Coclico, just to name a few. I tired on several pairs including Jeffery Campbell’s Ibiza last. I like this shoe – bit of a flatform, patent leather, bootie style and this fabulous extended heel and tongue detail. The overall shape reminds me a bit of an elf boot so just right for the season. Unfortunately, the Ibiza last is not for me. It’s just too thin through the toe box. Boo hiss for me. Don’t feel badly for me though. I did indulge and took advantage of their construction sale. A sexy new, comfy Melina beauty from Coclico AND an edgy new Micky combat boot by United Nude came home with me. Check out my Instagram to get a peek. Shoes of Salvation posted every Thursday.