The Art of the Mule – Something New for 2019!

New Year’s Resolutions

It’s 2019 and I’ve been reflecting on the first 18 months of RoxAnneLava. It’s been an incredible journey. Among other things, I’ve gone from one style offered in limited numbers online, the Signature to a second style, the Classic. Both are offered in Made to Order (RL-MTO) and Off the Rack (RL-OTR) options in leather, cork, fabric and ribbon. I’ve also launched the PopUp and shown in Philadelphia, Maryland and New Jersey.

The Art of the Mule Combines – Working Smarter, Not Harder

The Art of the Mule, my tumblr blog is truly my hommage to my favorite ongoing online fashion project, Burberry’s Art of the Trench, but keeping up with 2 blogs has been a challenge. In 2019, I’ve decided to combine my tumblr blog, with my RoxAnneLava blog. After all, both blogs are dedicated to all things mule.

I’ll continue to share my journey and as a cobbler and shoe designer through both platforms in one place. I invite you to comment, submit an image or ask the cobbler (that’s me) a question. Just click on a post from the feed on the right to follow the tumblr and submit.

RoxAnneLava PopUp - the art of the mule
RoxAnneLava PopUp

South Philadelphia Stories

I’m loving my PopUp set up. It’s easy up and down, totally me and the brand. I found the suitcase on ebay and it is a Belber. Here’s why I had to have it: “The Belber company was established in 1891 when two school-age brothers, Aaron and Henry Belber, scraped together $200 and started making luggage in a South Philadelphia basement. The Belber brothers, ages 14 and 17, worked 10 hours a day, six days a week, hand-stitching luggage.” —Wikipedia, Belber.

So I spent a bit more than $200 to get started, I’m a bit older and I don’t work six days a week, but I do make hand made shoes in my South Philly basement studio. Here’s another fun fact. I checked the conversion of $200 in 1891 to 2017 and it’s equal to $5400 and change. Hmmm. That’s pretty close to my initial investment. Maybe I’m not that different from the Belber brothers after all.

RoxAnneLava PoppingUp All Over

I’ll be doing more live events in 2019 and I’m considering a traveling shoe tour kind of like Sisters of the Traveling Pants. Stay tuned and stay in the loop follow me on FaceBook and Instagram or sign up for my newsletter. It’s going to be an exciting year. Buckle your seat belts and join me for the ride.

The Art of the Mule

The Art of the Mule is my new tumblr blog dedicated to all things mule. It’s a hommage to my favorite ongoing online fashion project, Burberry’s Art of the Trench. I invite you to participate in the project.

Designed to investigate mules from ancient to modern time, I invite you to comment, submit an image or ask the cobbler (that’s me) a question. One of my colleagues, Art historian Vicki Pass will be posting some of her favorites too. She’s started us off with Boucher’s Madame Pompadour,  1756. I can’t wait till she pulls out Fragonard’s, The Swing.

art example cork floral with cork wrap strap
Cork floral with cork wrap strap

Unintended selfie featuring my vegan cork floral in classic style with an optional cork wrap strap for those who feel they may walk out of the mule. The straps double as wrap bracelets.



I’m looking forward to sharing the love of the mule with each of you.




Mistake leads to the Signature Cut Out

the mistake
The Mistake

A skiving mistake turned into a happy accident, leading to the Signature cut out design. As I was working on a Signature upper out of the hide I got at J. T. Batchelor in London last summer, I was too heavy handed with my skiving knife. As you can see from the image, I cut off a part of the “seam allowance” or the part that connects the upper to the insole and sole.


The Solution
The Solution

I was annoyed with myself because I hate wasting leather. I could have tried to glue a patch and continue on, but other tasks came up and I left the problem for awhile. After a few weeks, I had my great shower thought of the day! Could I use the mistake to lead me to another design? I got into the studio and took a look. Using the mistake as my starting point, I created three cut outs. With some slight alteration and a decision to recycle some metal studs from a cuff, the design started to take shape.

The Cut Out Prototype
The Cut Out Prototype

With some glue, assembly and finishing , the prototype emerged a few days later. I’m in the testing phase. As expected, some adjustments will have to be made.  It is critical that the “straps” hit  the toes in the right place. I’ll have to add a step to the order process to make sure that happens. It’s coming along and I’m on track to launch the style in May.


I will name the style Happy Accident and the prototype will serve as a reminder to me that a change in perspective can always turn a mistake into a solution.

Community Market for Makers & Shakers

Maker & Shaker Community Market
Maker & Shaker Community Market

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.

The Bonus?

Free Federal Donuts, Coffee, Philly HomeBrew Outlet Breakfast Stout, a lovely Bahn Mi and DJ.

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.


Something Cookin’ RL Classic Prototyping Begins

something cookin voting options
Something Cookin’

There’s something cookin’ in the studio. After several months of making and selling my RoxAnneLava Signatures, I’ve  entered the prototyping stage for the RoxanneLava Classic. She’s a beauty! A bit less edgy and a little more refined. A little more Audrey (Hepburn) and a little less Joan (Crawford).

Based off  last 376,  the RoxAnneLava Classic will be available in whole sizes 5-10. If my glamazons need larger sizes let me know and I’ll get them. She boasts a moderate point  and slightly higher flat heel offering subtle sophistication and femininity. But just like RL Signature, she is still very much Bad Ass & Beautiful.

I’m experimenting with some up-cycled options. The pictured idea features a metallic ribbon vamp with a strap detail. I found the ribbon in the Tiger store in Reykjavik. If you haven’t been to Tiger or Reykjavik you should go check out both.

And the winner is…

Online and live polling to determine the most popular strap was interesting. In the end, each option was separated by only 1 vote. Audrey lovers will be pleased to note Black Patent came in 1st. Upholstery Trim was 2nd, Beads 3rd and Scales 4th.

Look for the RL Classic to debut after the New Year. Sign up for my newletter and be one of the first to get your pair with a significant insider discountn code. RoxAnneLava TinyLetter

More up-cycling opportunities and non-leather alternatives are in the pipeline. I hope to offer Signature and Classic styles in 3 options – All leather, Up-cycled materials, & Non-Leather for each delivery beginning in 2018. Let me know if you have any thoughts or connections.

If you are interested in a custom options email me directly for a quote. You can even supply your own materials.