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.


Signature Style has history in the Pixie

Meet Pixie
Meet Pixie

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.

Pixie sole
Pixie sole

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.

Pixie Glued
Pixie Glued
Pixie Lasted
Pixie Lasted

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.