The Interview — Sarah Flint, Founder, Creative Director, and Executive Chairman of Sarah Flint
Welcome to Talking Top 10, a recurring series in which we feature the founders, CEOs, creators, and leaders who are shaking up their industries. Ahead, read our Q&A with Sarah Flint, and keep scrolling to shop her Top 10 must-haves.
Sarah Flint launched her eponymous footwear collection in 2013 at the age of 25. The company was born out of Sarah's frustration that women had to choose between feeling good in their shoes and looking great in them. Sarah marries artisanal quality and original design with functional elements, improving fit and comfort. Manufacturing in the world’s best factories outside of Milan, Italy, Sarah Flint sells its shoes direct-to-consumer, offering customers the best possible price-to-value ratio in the market.
Prior to launching her collection, Sarah dedicated over seven years to the research and study of shoe design and manufacturing. Studying at Parsons, and the Fashion Institute of Technology, Sarah graduated with a degree in Accessories Design. After FIT, Sarah moved to Milan to obtain a graduate degree at Ars Sutoria, where she learned pattern making and mastered the technical aspects of shoe production.
Sarah has gained significant recognition in the industry. In 2016, she was appointed to the CFDA, the association of America’s most prominent designers, after having been sponsored by Michael Kors and Zac Posen. Her press coverage includes Forbes “30 Under 30” and a 2016 feature in WWD, “Ten of Tomorrow,” which showcased the best new talent in the fashion industry, as well as regular coverage in Vogue, People, InStyle, Town & Country and NY Times. The brand has gained a loyal following of the most influential celebrities and international style bloggers in the world, including Meghan Markle, Amal Clooney, Lady Gaga, Cindy Crawford, and Blake Lively to name just a few.
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Tell us about how Sarah Flint got its start. Was becoming a designer always the dream?
I’ve loved shoes and fashion as long as I could remember—a love that was largely instilled in me by my grandmother. I definitely always wanted to become a designer, which I pursued at FIT, Parsons School of Design, and Ars Sutoria in Milan, where I studied pattern-making alongside the artisans in the factories. It was there that I began to question why luxury shoes didn’t also focus on comfort, and why the industry was so focused on creating editorial styles as opposed to shoes women could actually wear in their daily lives. That’s when I got the idea to design luxury shoes that were stylish and comfortable.
What have been some of the most challenging moments in your journey as a designer? The most rewarding?
The most challenging was in 2017, when I pulled my shoes from stores like Barney’s and transitioned the brand to a direct-to-consumer model. It was a big leap emotionally and logistically. The most rewarding is hearing from customers who have formed an attachment to the brand, and have shared with me the wonderful memories they now have while wearing our shoes.
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What makes Sarah Flint different from other brands?
I think what really sets us apart is that we combine the best of a luxury brand with the best of a direct-to-consumer brand. We’re focused on style and comfort together, we rely on artisan craftsmanship and generations-old techniques, but we’re also always thinking of the customer’s needs first. We want to give the people who buy our shoes the absolute best experience possible.
What does a day in the life of Sarah look like?
These days it looks like a lot of back-to-back Zoom calls. Pre-pandemic, I’d be in the office splitting time between design, marketing, investor relations, content creation, and creative direction. I still do all of that now, but virtually from my home shoe closet/office.
From Blake Lively to Meghan Markle, some of the most fashionable women in the world are Sarah Flint fans. What’s it like seeing them wear your designs?
It’s always amazing to see women I admire wearing my shoes. They have access to any brand they want, so it’s always an honor when they choose mine. What makes me happiest, though, is that they wear my shoes not just on the red carpet, but in their day-to-day lives.
Which Sarah Flint shoes would we most likely catch you wearing?
I’ve been spending a lot of time lately in the Fireside House Shoe. Hopefully as the weather gets warmer, though, I can go for walks in my favorite Natalies.
Who’s your ultimate style icon?
Grace Kelly. I love the old Hollywood glamour look.
How do you decompress?
I love spending time with my family’s pups, Oscar and Jack. (I say pups but Oscar is nearly 14 years old.) They’re the best boys.
What’s your advice for a woman who wants to start her own business?
I would tell her to be relentless in pursuing your dream. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or do some cold outreach. If you never ask, the answer is always no.
What’s next for Sarah Flint?
In the past year, we debuted new categories like scarves and stationery, so I’m really excited to keep bringing our aesthetic to different types of products.