The logical choice for my future was creating new things, pushing boundaries.
My passion had already been cultivated to a 'draw-it-make-it' methodology. Something I learned from my grandmother who, unknowingly, invested this methodology into her early childhood. When visiting her I would pick a dress from a magazine, and she would, while I watched, recreate it to perfection.
I longed for my own sewing machine that I could also create these masterpieces but once I had one I realized that I was not a seamstress, but rather a creator. The stitching took too long and could not keep up with the ideas I had created in my head. I needed glue!
Settling for studying in the direction of clothing design
I always enjoyed shoe design, creating, sketching etc, but there was no real course available or even job descriptions so I decided to apply for the well know Fashion Design and Technology course, hoping to learn more about creating and not just designing on paper. After three years of designing and making clothes, I realized I did not want to do this as a career, and I felt like I was stuck. Clothing was not enticing enough, but what was the alternative?
So I phoned my Mother (who else?), moms know everything in any case. She told me straight "your passion is footwear so go out there and make your passion your career!", thats all I needed to hear. The Bachelor Degree in footwear design was my next goal!
Creating and understanding shoes for the very first time
I then moved to Cape Town to take up an apprenticeship and the next year I was engulfed in this new and enticing world, spending time in each department asking questions that only brought even more questions!
I dove in head first learning everything from design to pattern, cutting, stitching, lasting and finishing.
I just knew this is where I wanted to be.
Proving that her footwear knowledge is worthy of the Bachelor degree
I moved back to Pretoria and began work on my Thesis', Footwear history and Manufacturing. It was time to show, and prove, that I had enough practical knowledge of designing, making and presenting footwear.
I stuck with the basic structure of presentation: files with design processes, worksheets, creative lay-outs and patterns, culminating in my 20 shoe show pieces collection.
Included was a step-by-step visual information poster of the factory and processes of footwear making, loose components of footwear, half assembled uppers with before and after photo's of lasted shoes.
A visual informational poster of the factory and processes of footwear making, loose components of footwear, half assembled uppers with before and after photo's of lasted shoes.
Marketing material for collections, which included business ID, four different fashion shoots with clothing, make-up, hair and models.
It was a raging success, and I was allowed to show my work in the annual and prestigious fashion show of the University.
Work life in South Africa
With Bachelor Degree in hand, I quickly realized that finding a job was going to be harder than I thought. Factories had already closed down and the only possibility to stay in the field, was to try something totally different- Footwear Technologist.
Once again, I set off to Cape Town, this time with the Ackermans group. I learned about different shoe factories, how to influence quality of fitting and product, and how important professional relationships are between retailer, supplier and customer.
Off to Europe
In 2009 I decided it was time to chase my true passion of designing and making shoes, and so I headed off to the Netherlands and found a job as a junior designer, at last I had my foot in the door! Passionately, I dove in head first and worked hard, The work was interesting, and I was learning a lot but after a while it dawned on me that all I was instructed to do was to design similar shoes to existing products and this was not my goal. I wanted to be a "designer" and I didn't want to copy other people's work.
Making beautiful shoes
I decided it was time to make my dreams come true, and I set off to find a company that shared my passion. Being part of a team that understands and loves making shoes is a privilege. I started work at Floris van Bommel as a Footwear designer and remained there for 8 years, living and breathing my passion!
I believe that a shoe should be more than a uniform product, we need to break the mould. Footwear should adapt to modern life and with new technology and materials we can push the boundaries!
Quotes that inspire
"You are not supposed to give people what they want. You are supposed to give people what they do not know they want."
"Any designer will attest to the fact that it takes five or more tries to turn an idea into a workable design."
"Design starts with an idea, not redefining another's work."
"Design is not a department, it is a behaviour."
"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your life. There are no limits"