Sarah Sclarandis has loved shoes all of her life, and after many years in the shoe business now has her own shoe line. Read about her journey, and her beyond fabulous shoes in my Q&A Below!
FO40: Sarah, what is the inspiration behind Sclarandis?
Sarah Sclarandis: I have been dreaming about shoes since I was a little girl, and designing them for over 20 years for some of the best brands. What really inspired me to start my namesake collection was the difficulty in finding high quality shoes that were not built with skyscraper heels and skyrocketing prices.
As a busy mother, wife, and entrepreneur, I’m not willing to compromise quality and design. I felt there was an underserved market for women like me. While designer fashion houses offer incredible footwear built for a life of special occasions, I wanted Italian-made luxury shoes that could take me from school drop off to a meeting to date night. That’s the inspiration: luxury made for real life!
FO40: How did your background prepare you to launch your own shoe label?
SS: I trained to become a shoe designer at De Montford University in Leicester, England. This is what I always wanted to do. After graduation, I moved back to Italy and started working for Benetton. Later I was contacted by an American headhunter and moved to New York thinking I would only stay a short time- it’s been almost 20 years!
I worked for some of the best companies in the industry- Banana Republic, Juicy Couture (I launched their footwear line), and DKNY amongst others. I was lucky that most of these brands were making shoes in Italy at the time.
Designing shoes is a complicated craft because there are so many components that have to come together. They are each made by different suppliers not connected to each other-it’s like making a cake in 5 different kitchens!
All these components like the leathers, hardware, outsole, heels, and last are essentially assembled together and have to look great. Sometimes the ideas just don’t translate, or one of the components doesn’t fit with the rest of the pieces, so its back to the drawing board!
FO40: Your shoes are crafted in Italy. Tell us about the process behind the creations.
SS: I start thinking about what inspires me the most, the colors and materials I want to wear and the silhouettes I’m in the mood for. Then I start sketching. This is the most fun but also the hardest part, because you need to edit the ideas, and for a creative person like myself this is not always easy. I want to try it all, sometimes cutting pieces of leather into the shape of the pattern I like to see it come to life.
Once I have edited the ideas, I start to detail the shoes and send the sketches to the factory in Italy. As they start to make the first samples, I like to work together with the factory sample maker because they have so much experience and always give great technical feedback.
FO40: All of your shoe styles are stylish yet comfortable. What are your most popular pieces?
SS: So hard to choose! All of my shoes have a little extra cushioning, which makes them more comfortable. The Nina Ballerinas with the small wedge have been very popular, as well as the Carla Wedge Sandal which is so easy to wear. My suede Alice Sandal is also very popular because its easily adjustable for any type of foot.
FO40: What is your favorite style?
SS: While each style and design is special, I love color and clean lines. One of my favorites is the star glitter Nina Ballet- my own size sold out before I could even get a pair myself!
Others include the Alessa Peep toe Boot in python; my red suede Alice Eyelet Sandal; the Carla Wedge which I have been wearing a lot of late; and the black and white python striped Allegra Sandal. Oh and of course the Silver Nina Ballerina. I love them all!
FO40: Where can we buy your beautiful shoes?
SS: My website, sclarandis.com launched two months ago. We offer free shipping and free returns so our customers can try the shoes in the comfort of their home. We also plan special events, trunk shows and pop up shops. You can also sign up to my newsletter on the website to receive news on our upcoming events.
Thank You Sarah!