Painting has always been my happy place. I am never more relaxed in the moment then when I am sketching, painting, playing with colours and generally creating something with no plan – not knowing how a piece of art will turn out is the fun part.
Life, like art, has a way of turning out how you least expect it.
When I was 35 my husband passed away from cancer after five months of marriage. Whilst he was undergoing treatment, I found myself sketching to take my mind off the awful situation we found ourselves in. So much time spent in hospitals, my mind needed an escape.
I have always had a passion or rather an addiction to shoes and thought how much fun it would be to sketch them, let my imagination run wild, design the shoes I had always envisaged. And it really helped. It gave me purpose. In a way, it brought me back to myself - it reminded me of what I have always loved. Art, fashion, colour.
The time after someone passes is by far the hardest. Torn between wanting to fill the days with anything that will distract you from reality and wanting to crawl into a ball and do nothing ever again. I do believe that whilst we can’t control what life throws at us, we can control how we deal with those situations, we can turn a corner and come out stronger on the other side.
I decided to continue sketching shoes and research into what it would take to become a shoe designer. I had the determination and nothing left to loose. I applied for a pattern cutting course at the London College of Fashion to learn the fundamental elements of shoe design. From here, I took some sketches to Georgina Goodman, who has had a long, successful career in shoe design and fashion. Her advice was to elevate my ‘hobby’ into something more. Study with professionals and learn everything there is to know about shoes.
Whilst I was then accepted into LCF, a four year course seemed daunting. I kept searching and found that Istituto Marangoni in Florence were offering Scholarships to their one year intensive shoe design course. Italy was special to me anyway, having got married in Sorrento the year before. I applied and was awarded a Scholarship. This was such a monumental moment in my journey. I was still grieving, yet I was determined to live and fulfil my dreams – a privilege sadly denied to so many.
I took the leap and left my job of 14 years to move to Florence and immerse myself in the history of shoe making. The best decision I have ever made. The art, history, fashion and colour of the city was incredible. Inspiration at every turn. I loved the course and I learnt so much about sketching, branding and the importance of creating beautiful, wearable shoes. Without a solid and well thought out design, shoes won’t work. However pretty they may look.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but learning shoe design pushed me on. I was doing what my husband would have wanted. I was living life to the full, following my dream and creating new memories and experiences. I realise now of course, that loosing someone in life makes you fearless. I always think now, ‘what is the worst that can happen?’, ‘I am going to learn how to do this, who is going to tell me I can’t?’
I decided to launch my own brand just one year after graduation. I already had the business experience in terms of working with professionals and now I had the creative vision too. I wanted my own brand. I knew it should represent fearless, determined, fun Women who appreciate luxury craftsmanship together with art, design and of course a love for gorgeous one-of-a-kind shoes.
That is the beauty of being creative. You never know where it will lead. Sadly, grief never leaves you, but you do learn to live with it. And it is made all the easier if you can turn your story into a positive journey, find your passion and do what you love.