Ten Minutes with Sarah, Founder of “The World At Your Feet”

“The World At Your Feet” is a casual, vegan footwear brand with a fuss-free and effortless aesthetic, inspired by cartography, early explorers and natural history.

Tell us a bit about your career background and why did you start “The World At Your Feet”?

I studied art when I was younger, and while I tried moving on to business, the jump from creative to the rigid was a culture shock to me. I was still very much interested in fashion and started doing jobs in fashion retail and marketing. Everything was stable at that point, but I constantly felt the need to travel overseas, push boundaries and when I got selected for an internship in New York for a Designer, it was a dream come true! The “Big Apple” taught me many things as a person and as an aspiring Designer. I quickly learned that drawing is important but being able to have a clear vision and then communicating well to convey your ideas to others was key. Being there and stepping out of the bubble island life, it struck me that no matter where I go or what ideology I have, I can’t escape from my heritage and culture. That really opened up my eyes.

When I came back, I did public relations, and got sick of telling other people’s stories and thought to myself, “If I had the world at my feet, nothing would hold me back.” From there, “The World At Your Feet” was born. With this brand, I want to re-connect this urbanised world to nature and teach them to appreciate what we have before we lose it completely to industrialisation. Hence, the designs are greatly inspired by cartography, early explorers and natural history with very organic colors. At the end of the day, everyone is on their own journey and I hope my shoes will be able to follow them on the path they choose to take and stay as a fond memory. So here’s a little reminder that if you have the world at your feet, nothing is going to hold you back!

What makes shoes from “The World At Your Feet” different?

From design aspects, we are a vegan-aware brand and do not use any animal-based products. I think the biggest challenge is educating people on why we choose not to use any animal-based products and that leather doesn’t decompose nor benefit our environment in the long run. Also, I place great emphasis on comfort. Hence we only designed flats and sandals, where there are two layers of soles in each pair of shoes. Many are in uncomfortable heels to portray a professional outlook, and I feel you can wear comfortable shoes and still look equally stylish. To me, this is how I see things going forward.

Can you talk about the process of creating one of your shoes from the first idea through execution?

I usually take inspiration from what’s happening in our culture and retail landscape. After digesting all the things I saw and interacted with, I sketch out my ideas and let them stew. After a couple of days, I pick out the ones that resonate with me and refine them further. Finally, there are the bigger steps of choosing colours, sampling, flying out to the factory to ensure everything runs smoothly. The biggest challenge I face is envisioning which colours will be popular in the next coming year. But overall, it’s a fun process.

What footwear projects do you have planned for the future?

I imagine this to be a stable like Converse, Air Force ones, etc. But to be honest, it probably won’t happen anytime soon because producing new designs has a high cost. We just launched new designs in March, so right now the focus is to promote our new range especially the sandals! I think our sandals don’t look like anything on the market now and the challenge right now is for people to see and like them. We are working on promoting ourselves better!

How do you motivate and push yourself forward in this tough environment?

I am always looking at my business with a critical lens and will question myself constantly about what I am not doing right and missing the mark on. There are certain indicators around my brand that I have established to make sure I’m on the right track. To me, if the supporting foundational items aren’t there, people will question the product’s worth. I listen to customer feedback as well, and in fact, that’s the reason why we came up with the unisex shoes. It will be difficult in this industry, especially when sustainability is the key issue that many grapple with, but it’s very rewarding when you see what started off as a sketch becoming a physical product that people connect with. Be patient!

What advice would you give for up and coming shoe designers in our region?

I would say go for it and even though there may be a lot of hurdles, it is worth it. If you don’t give it a shot you will never know what will happen. Always give a 100%. Even if you fail it’s a learning curve.

Is there an overarching philosophy that guides your life?

There’s one from a friend, “It may not always be easy, but it will be worth it.” and I think it works for everything – school, relationships, business.