Being around product design for some time, I had developed the desire to merge into that lane at some point. Then, in 2004, I met someone who asked me to design a "collection" of footwear for kids. This wasn't just one, or two shoes. It was 30 some. It also wasn't just the sketch that I could then pass on to a development team. No, this was the whole kit and kaboodle. This project meant I would be choosing the color palettes and picking materials at a factory in Brazil. I also developed a spec sheet to fill out for each shoe and hand off to the factory. Although, I did get a good base understanding of the core colors and materials from my client; I did some trend research on the high end Euro market, and then applied more of the detailing, colors and textured leather looks to some of the more trendy styles. One of the first little footwear designs from 2004 [ see below ]. It was called the Lickety Split. I was thrilled with how it turned out. The factory got the deco stitch on the toe, pebble grained leather + a little suede collar just right. I designed the little outsole to have a star on one foot and a half moon on the other. It's always very rewarding to see the final product reach the market.
Another first was this boot - called the bon bon. Another thrill, as the supple leather [ called destroy ] gave the little boot a biker feel. I thought the top stitch added nice dimension.
Below is another boot that I collaborated more closely on, with the factory owner - Sergio - from Brazil. I came up with the colors, material, pinked overlay and fur, and he provided inspiration for the wooden button closure system. The factory contacts from Brazil were fun, respectful, loyal, hard-working and team-oriented individuals. I really enjoyed working with them. They were originally from Germany and when I was on a visit - they would be sure to treat me to the best Italian, French or German cuisine in or near Novo Hamburgo. Miss that!
The mary jane below, called the Be Bop, I believe became what seemed like the style guide for the Umi brand for years to come. The x-stitch, tumbled leather, leather brand patch and custom printed lining are some of the unique details that were repeated in various ways and still are.