by Kristen Gray
Imagine going back to childhood as a young girl. You are shopping with your mother in the shoe department of Barneys New York. Your eyes widen and sparkle and you imagine one day owning one of the most elegant pair, price unspoken. Now fast-forward to present day. Your very own shoe line is featured in that same store on Madison Avenue. Basically, the things dreams are made of.
Sarah Flint is one of the newer young and fresh-face designers to make an impressive impact in the footwear realm since her debut in fall 2013. I had the pleasure of visiting with her and getting to know about her and her lovely designs. For more information, visit her site: sarahflint.com.
KG: What would you say is your muse or style inspiration in your footwear collections?
SF: Definitely old Hollywood classics. For example, To Catch a Thief and anything with Lauren Bacall. Also, Audrey and Katharine Hepburn for their kitten heels and flats or a wide-leg trouser paired with a loafer. Audrey was always known for her skinny pants and a ballerina or kitten heel combo. I have found a way to update the look and make it modern. Many of my flats have a sateen and suede combination. Some of the flats have this wire mesh detail on the toe so that you can customize your pair, making them your own personality.
KG: Tell me some details about your shoes that set them apart from the crowd?
SF: I spend a lot of time getting to know my customers, especially at my trunk shows where I can talk to them one-on-one. Comfort is huge, but I never let it compromise style. All of my shoes have an inserted cushion to protect the wearer from fatigue and discomfort. I also have rubber inserts on the sole so that the shoe is slide-proof, which can really come in handy on a first date walking on a freshly waxed restaurant floor. I am always thinking about the details. I walk around in my shoes for a great period of time to determine their comfort level and what needs to be tweaked. Visual details are important as well. Every detail is a part of the pattern work. It is never simply a buckle placed on top.
KG: Thinking back, what is your biggest triumph? In opposition, what has been a regret?
SF: When I first saw the Sarah Flint sign in the Barneys New York storefront, my heart stopped. As a kid, you walk by and to have that is such a dream. With my trunk shows, I do well because I am there to meet with every client. But when I see my sell-through report from Barneys and knowing how well my shoes sell when I am not there is such an awesome feeling. To know that people really love my shoes and that they can stand on their own and don’t need me there is what I work so hard for.
One thing that I would say is a mistake is not staying true to myself. I have had to remind myself to keep with my unique style regardless of outside input. Certain people have wanted me to go avant-garde and I have had to learn to appreciate feedback but not necessarily take it. Another thing would be going too quickly in the beginning stages and getting so wrapped up in everything that I had forgotten to sit back and appreciate the moment and dedicate some time to myself. It is okay to be excited about what you accomplish!
KG: Can you give me some advice for young designers wanting to break out into the fashion world?
SF: Networking is one of your best tools. Also making sure you are well versed in your area of design. I have worked in retail since I was 15 years old. I first began at a specialty store in Massachusetts, where I am from. I eventually became a buyer for them in NYC. Being in retail is not all of it, though. You really need to know every aspect. The business side and the design side are equally as important. Your name is on it so all of this is very significant.
KG: Where do you see your brand in 5 – 10 years?
SF: I would love to own my own retail stores and expand internationally. I also plan to add accessories such as handbags, belts, and wallets.
KG: What is your go-to shoe?
SF: Definitely a flat or a kitten heel. A flat is the new heel. The Andrea and the Bennett slip-ons are my top sellers and are my flats that feature an almond toe. This shape keeps it both classy and feminine.