Sarah Flint: Lh Exclusive Interview with the Woman Behind the Shoes
As a shoe lover and one who is always looking for women with exciting products and stories to share I was thrilled when I first learned of Sarah Flint via an Instagram post by Annastasia Seebohm, the fabulous Global CEO of Quintessentially. After some quick research, I knew I needed to connect with the brand’s namesake founder and share her inspiring story and her shoes! Read on for more about Sarah Flint the woman, Sarah Flint the brand, and a bit of advice she has for aspiring entrepreneurs!
Love Happens: When did your love for shoes first begin?
Sarah Flint: My life-long love of shoes started at age five with a beautiful pair of patent leather tap shoes. I was completely in love with everything about them – the grosgrain flower on top, the little heel, and the satisfying ‘click’ they made when I walked.
Lh: Tell us about Sarah Flint the brand.
Sarah Flint: I initially launched my brand in 2013 at the age of 25 with a design ethos centered around style without sacrifice. I was frustrated that women had to choose between feeling good and looking great. My shoes marry artisanal quality and innovation to bring women footwear that is classically elegant on the outside and packed with comfort-driven design on the inside.
Lh: Tell us about your passion for craftsmanship. How did the love begin?
Sarah Flint: Craftsmanship is at the core of everything we do at Sarah Flint. I spent time in Italy studying shoe pattern making and production alongside factory workers at a school called Ars Sutoria. This is where I really fell in love with the hand-made, artisanal details that go into Italian craftsmanship.
Lh: Was there a specific moment when you thought to yourself my business is really taking off or has it just been a slow evolution? If there was a specific “this is it” moment we would love to hear about it.
It’s been more of a slow evolution and I’m not sure I’ll ever get to a point where I say to myself, ‘this is it.’ I think there’s always room to be more creative and more innovative.
Lh: Meghan Markle has been a strong endorser of your shoes and other top A-list celebrities like Lady Gaga, Amal Clooney and Cindy Crawford all love your shoes. What have these endorsements done for your brand? How do they make you feel?
Sarah Flint: It’s always extremely flattering and exciting when I see an influential woman wear my shoes. I know these women have access to every brand out there and always feel really proud when they choose Sarah Flint.
Lh: Why did you decide to switch your business model to direct-to-consumer in 2017? How has this change impacted your business?
Sarah Flint: After starting off in department stores, which I am forever grateful for, I began to notice a shift in how my friends and my customers were shopping. They were buying more and more from DTC brands and only buying designer items on sale or with a promo code. So, I started to look at the existing DTC brands and while there were a large number of them offering great basics at lower prices, there were almost no true designer-lead luxury brands. It looked like an enormous opportunity to disrupt a broken model and attract a whole new generation of luxury consumers with better prices, original designs, and a brand voice empowering women. While not without risks, it has been the best decision we’ve ever made as a brand.
Lh: Your brand heavily focuses on the amazing comfort level of your shoes. How did you decide you were going to use this as a key differentiator for Sarah Flint?
Sarah Flint: I knew this would be the key differentiator for the brand since day one. During my time at FIT, where I studied footwear design, it puzzled me that the shoes women spent the most money on were the ones that made your toes numb and eventually ended up at the back of your closet. I saw a real opportunity in the market to create beautifully designed, handmade shoes that didn’t sacrifice style for comfort.
Lh: On your site, you note that your shoes are “Inspired by great women.” Can you tell us about the meaning behind this? Do your shoe names have anything to do with this?
As a brand we embrace and empower women by telling their stories. We feature dynamic, successful women of different ages, industries, and backgrounds across our channels. I’m very passionate about building a network of women who support each other and this certainly affects how we name our shoes, which are all named after incredible women, including customers, members of our HQ team, mentors, and icons.
Lh: Is there anyone in particular who you feel has had a strong impact on your career and/or style?
Sarah Flint: My incredibly chic grandmother has always been my style icon. She was an amazing artist and lived in Paris for most of my childhood. She taught me the importance of not buying a lot of things but investing in a few really high-quality pieces that you love instead. This is the same ethos we follow at Sarah Flint by designing timeless styles that you can wear season after season.
Lh: Tell us about your new pop-up on West Broadway in Soho.
It’s been amazing so far! It’s so rewarding to meet customers face to face and see them interact with the product. We’re open until December 15, 2019, and I can’t wait to open our next space.
Lh: In your marketing, you use #walklikeawoman, can you tell us about the meaning behind this?
For me, ‘Walk Like a Woman’ means that you can feel both feminine and powerful because to be one is to be the other.
Lh: I hear you are getting married, congratulations! Will you be designing a custom shoe for yourself for your big day? We would love to hear details! Do you ever design limited edition or custom shoes for individuals?
Sarah Flint: Thank you! I am designing a custom shoe for myself, as well as my bridesmaids – it wouldn’t feel like my wedding without something special! We do occasionally design custom bridal shoes for friends of the brand. Recently we worked with Lauren Bushnell on her wedding shoes, which were of course gorgeous. It’s always special to create shoes for such a personal occasion.
Lh: What three pieces of advice would you give young women who have a passion for shoe design and/or entrepreneurship in general?
- Be relentless and knock on every door. The answer will always be ‘no’ if you don’t try.
- When you hit a roadblock, bring yourself back to why you started and the problem you initially set out to solve.
- Always trust yourself and your vision.
Lh: What do you believe is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned since the creation of Sarah Flint the brand?
Sarah Flint: I’ve learned to always bring myself back to why I started this company. For me, that’s building a new kind of customer-first luxury brand where women can still have an original designer product of the highest quality that’s actually comfortable.
Lh: What’s next for Sarah Flint? We’d love to hear what’s in the pipeline!
Sarah Flint: We’d love to continue to explore physical retail with pop-up shops in new markets in the coming years.
By Anna Beck Bimba