Kreamondo > Blog > Step by step, understanding the art of shoemaking with Alexandria Wills

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30 July 2019

Step by step, understanding the art of shoemaking with Alexandria Wills

Known as the Windy City, Chicago has always attracted designers, makers and creators from all backgrounds and horizons. A true melting pot, it’s there that Kreamondo is getting an insight in to the life of a shoemaker. Alexandria Wills is taking us on journey, understanding what led her to this craft that gave her so much purpose.

© Dayson E. Roa

Could you tell us a bit more about yourself, your background and how shoemaking came into your life ?

For as long as I can remember, I have been a maker, sculptor, artist etc. In my younger years of education I studied ceramics and learned how to sew very early from my grandmothers. Instead of doodling in class I liked to make origami and my favorite subject in school was learning 3-dimensional mathematics through Calculus. I have always found pleasure in working with my hands and learning how things are made. I consider myself to be a “do it yourself” type of person so I find myself learning a lot on my own through trial-and-error, taking risks, and learning from mistakes. College wasn’t really my style of learning so I decided to start my own business instead and I loved what it taught me, still do. Shoemaking came from my continuous curiosity with learning new trades and when I had saved up enough to afford a class, I dove right into it. I found shoemaking to be a very challenging yet rewarding craft and a dying trade that I was keeping alive through my art. I made so many shoes my first year, over 100 pairs and even more the second. Continuously growing and learning with every step. Shoemaking gave a purpose to my art.

© Alexandria Wills

How would you describe your shoes and your artistic universe ? What are your hopes for your brand going forward ?

Shoes are just a taste of what I am capable of. I enjoy making and doing all sorts of things. I also enjoy teaching, which I now do out of my studio. I make all sorts of accessories on a custom basis and still make clothing, jewelry, and handbags from time to time. My business to me is a giant learning experience, and some sort of experiment. I just keep making and doing what I love and this is the path that it has taken me on. I once heard the quote. “Do what you love, and do it often…” so that is what I live by and would like to continue doing. Selling my work is how I am able to keep doing that. Going forward I would like to continue growing my business organically, surrounding myself with good people, and learning every step of the way.

© Alexandria Wills

In terms of creativity, how important is Chicago ? What’s so special about this city and how does it influence your work ?

Chicago holds a special place in my heart because it is my home. The memories from my childhood, experiences made here, people I have loved and grown with here – all have shaped who I am. I have lived in many places throughout my life but this city has shaped me the most, especially my business, and for that I am very grateful. Chicago is a very supportive city for small artists like myself and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of the people here. There is a beautiful art scene here filled with creativity in music, fashion, visual art, and architecture. All of my friends are interconnected with various forms of art here and we are constantly connecting in different ways, helping each other out, learning, and growing from one another.

© Alexandria Wills

What would you say to a young designer aspiring to make a name for him/herself in the shoemaking industry? What are the challenges of the trade ?

The shoemaking industry is a large one and you can take it in many directions. Just like any other business you make yourself. You really have to love it and love yourself. There will be struggles, endless struggles but it will be for the love and growth of yourself and your business which in turn becomes your freedom. That freedom is priceless. Surround yourself with good people, eat healthy, and exercise.

© Alexandria Wills

You can follow Alexandria on Instagram and Facebook to see her latest work and behind the scenes.

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