As the proud creator of womens shoe blog Wingtipwomen, I’d been thinking about what to write for my last post of 2015.
Inspiration struck during my family’s Christmas celebration. My oldest child Merry Dare wrote a poignant summary of her experiences this year, and read it after dinner.
Its greatness lay in its complete honesty. At 23, she’s still in the process of finding herself, and she wrote about her “stupid mistakes” as well as the insight she gained from them. She thanked her family for their love and support in good times and bad. We laughed, we cried, hopefully at the appropriate places.
So I’m going to do the same thing. Here’s a look back at 2015, and what I hope to accomplish in 2016. Before I start, I want to thank my husband Phil, who critiques every post I write, and helps with ideas and videos. I also want to thank my friends (especially Kathy!) who send me articles and photos. And my entire family, who humors me whenever we’re out in public and I suddenly dart away to get a shot or ask someone who they’re wearing.
Learning as I go
The first time I asked a total stranger if I could snap a photo of his shoes, I was so terrified you’d have thought I was a prospective groom asking for his girlfriend’s hand in marriage. Now that I’ve taken literally hundreds of photos of people’s shoes for my womens shoe blog – both men’s and women’s – I’ve come to realize that most people really like helping others. At least people who wear nice shoes do. I’ve never been turned down, not once. Along the way, I’ve gained over 500 followers on Instagram.
This summer, when I’d been blogging for just a few months, I flew to Oregon to attend the first annual Footwear Symposium, where I met master shoemakers Bill Shanor, Marcell Mrsan, Paul Krause and Lisa Sorrell. Even though I was a complete newbie, bespoke makers like Raul Ojeda, Rick Roman, Renee’ MacDonald and many others welcomed me in and shared their experiences and advice.
A number of designers gave me interviews throughout the year: vegan footwear designer Stephanie Nicora of Nicora Shoes and gender-neutral shoe designer Nik Kacy. Fellow bloggers like Andy Gilchrist of AskAndyAboutClothes have let me write guest posts, and top brands like Allen Edmonds have given me tours. Sure, my posts give them free publicity, but as they are all far more well-known than I, their participation helped me even more.
What’s next for 2016
In 2016, I’m looking forward to so much: Canadian filmmaker’s Stacey Tenenbaum’s documentary Shiners, about shoe shiners around the world. I have a business trip to L.A. in February, and hope to visit my friends Raul and Sal at Don Ville Shoes and Willie’s Shoe Service, and explore some factories manufacturing shoes and apparel right here in the U.S.A.
My goal in 2016 is to figure out what’s next. Should I start selling shoes on my site? Launch my own brand of menswear-inspired women’s shoes? (If you’re a designer, let’s talk!) I’d love to take a shoemaking class.
The poet Carl Sandburg said “Nothing happens unless first we dream.” This year, I learned the power of pursuing your dream, no matter how unlikely, unexpected or odd. THANK YOU to everyone who helped me in 2015!
Please forgive the lack of apostrophes. I know better, but must sacrifice them to the search engine optimization gods.