Have you ever gone shoe shopping and found it challenging to find the size and width you need? Brooklyn mom Nicole Shwirtz decided she wanted to do something to help women with this challenge.
This month, Shwirtz launched a Kickstarter campaign for her line, NicoNine, where shoes are available through the end of the month. Contributor Jessica Abo shares her story and tips for other mompreneurs who want to follow their passion.
Once you decided you wanted to make shoes, what was your first step?
Shwirtz: I took classes at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology and continued with one-on-one workshopping at the Brooklyn Shoe Space. I learned everything from pattern-making to lasting. There are so many steps that go into making a pair of shoes. Some are obvious, like sewing, but many steps are unknown to most people, like skivving leather, gluing shanks, applying toe puffs and heel counter molds.
What styles do the shoes come in and how long do they take to make?
All my shoes come in half sizes, 5 through 13, and in narrow, medium and wide widths. It’s all made by hand, in Brooklyn. My first style, The Athena, comes in two color variations and is my modern take on the ankle boot. It actually takes about 20 hours and 20 individual steps to make a single pair.
How does your brand empower women?
For the consumer, the brand makes available more sizing options than most other brands. As a person with narrow feet, I always felt cheated by the one-size, one-width model. I wanted to empower women of all shoe sizes and widths to find a better fitting shoe for an affordable price. On the shoe production side, once the Kickstarter is successfully funded, all shoes will be made to order, by hand, at the Brooklyn Shoe Factory, which is a women-owned, minority-owned factory. They focus on small-batch manufacturing and hire and train talent through a non-profit organization called CEEDS, which employs underserved immigrant women to provide them with meaningful work and fair wages.