In the Room with Sarah Flint, who is Disrupting Footwear by Building Modern Luxury for Today’s Woman
Sarah Flint proves that beauty doesn’t have to mean pain by creating comfortable and stylish luxury shoes for women who live any kind of lifestyle. When Sarah noticed a gap in the women’s shoe market, she began designing her own.
Sarah didn’t always think she was going to be a founder. After studying at Parsons and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, Sarah landed internships with iconic brands like DVF and Proenza Schouler. It wasn’t until her time studying in Italy, did she realize that she needed to be the one to turn the need she saw in the market into a reality. Over 11 years later, we sit down with Sarah and hear her story in building a household-name brand. In this episode, we discuss themes such as breaking into a heritage industry as a young designer, what it takes to disrupt the luxury brand market, and the future of retail 3.0.
Let’s open the door.
Theme 1: Breaking into a heritage industry as a young disruptor
At 25 years old, Sarah realized that nothing was stopping her from starting her own brand. Sarah recounts to us the very early leap of faith that led to Sarah Flint the brand. She explains,“I was studying in Italy and I got introductions to a number of people who worked at these factories. One of my teachers in particular had been a shoe pattern maker at one of the most premier factories. I kind of felt like,okay, if I don’t take this opportunity now, I might lose it, and what do I have to lose.” A lesson to all: sometimes, you have a lot less to lose than you might initially think! After Sarah decided to shoot her shot, she was faced with a bit of skepticism from factories. “ They all said what company are you from? Who is your family? Most luxury brands are generational in Europe as you can imagine, they looked at me, not that seriously. But, that teacher was able to get me into the factory that he had worked at basically as a favor. We finally came back with orders and they were shocked- but happy,” explains Sarah. Despite not coming from a big brand or well known shoe factory, Sarah’s determination and boldness helped her chart her own path.
Theme 2: Reinventing luxury
Sarah is on a mission to rethink luxury by understanding the desires and demands of today’s modern woman. When we asked Sarah who the “Sarah Flint Woman” is, she explained, “ The woman who buys Sarah Flint is very discerning on quality. She’s not willing to sacrifice look for comfort or comfort for look. She is delighted that she’s found that in Sarah Flint. She definitely has a more feminine approach to style, more timeless, elegant look, and really appreciates and delights in sort of the details.” By having a deep understanding of her customer, Sarah was able to prioritize and index on the small details that matter. “So many of the things that we do with the shoes are very and very small, whether it’s handmade, leather flower or intricate pattern work. What always gets me most excited and feels like the most rewarding thing is when the customers actually notice those details.”
Theme 3: Retail 3.0, What’s next in commerce
Sarah believes the next big thing in eCommerce is in solving the challenges that have arisen with changes in privacy laws and the in-turn skyrocketing digital marketing costs. To combat rising CACs, Sarah recommends that brands diversify their acquisition channels. Sarah Explains, “we are a business not really built on digital marketing despite being a direct to consumer brand for the past few years. We’ve had the benefit of a lot of earned media celebrity placements and customers acquired from our brand ambassador program. I think that what everyone needs to focus on in the coming years is really diversifying their customer acquisition strategies, thinking about new and cost effective ways to get their brand and their product in front of new customers.” Sarah also comments on the value of the micro-influencer. “You’re not someone that’s peddling a whole bunch of products to people. So they trust you when you post something, which is great to see. And we’ve had a lot of success with women in careers where they’re meeting a lot of new women like interior designers who have great luxury clientele or event planners, or lawyers.” Certainly not your traditional celebrity brand influencer.