My light bulb moment: Shoe designer Claire Burrows reveals the inspiration behind her shoe brand

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My light bulb moment: Shoe designer Claire Burrows reveals the inspiration behind her shoe brand

  • Claire Burrows, 49, who lives in London, founded Air & Grace in 2014
  • Inspiration came from frustration with the lack of shoes that offer comfort and style
  • Air & Grace has grown 70 percent year on year over the past seven years

Claire Burrows, 49, founded the independent British shoe brand Air & Grace in 2014. She lives with her partner in London.

After graduating with a degree in fashion management from London College of Fashion, I worked for ten years as a fashion buyer for footwear brands including Office, Oasis and Kurt Geiger.

In 2009 I became head of product development and design at FitFlop, where I worked on the collaboration with fashion designer Anna Sui. It sparked a passion for shoes with built-in comfort and intelligent design.

Claire Burrows, 49, (pictured) who lives in London, founded the independent British shoe brand Air & Grace in 2014

Two years later I became the director of product and design at Aldo UK, but I became increasingly frustrated with the idea that comfort and style did not really co-exist in shoes; I have had plantar fasciitis once [a common form of heel pain] of wearing ballerinas on cobbled streets.

Yes, there were comfortable shoe brands, but all too often they were ugly orthopedic brands.

So in 2014 I took a leap of faith and founded my own label. Not wanting to contribute to the fast-paced fashion, I wanted to create a brand that would not only be missing from my wardrobe, but also a joy to wear. Air & Grace uses high-quality foams that are mainly used in sports shoes. Each shoe has two or three layers of memory and recovery foam cushioning, made into a wedge so that you feel like you’re walking on air.

We won an early investment of £ 150,000 after winning Worth Retail’s Best New Retail Start-up in 2014. Michael Acton Smith, the co-founder of meditation app Calm, was a judge and was then asked to become an investor. turn into.

We’ve seen 70 percent growth over the past seven years, year after year. We broke even in 2018 and have been profitable ever since.

Tropicana wedge, £ 129, airandgrace london.com

Tropicana wedge, £ 129, airandgrace london.com

Our shoes are made in Portugal and Spain, using responsible materials.

We made sandals for the first time during lockdown. Nobody went on vacation, but we were sold out anyway. We also designed a collaborative shoe with Gaby Roslin last year and raised £ 10,000 for The Prince’s Trust.

We now have a vegan collection and with our Black Friday Repurpose collection (made from materials that would otherwise have been lost) we were able to donate a tree in an urban forest for every pair of shoes purchased.

Our shoes are made by women for women. You buy them for the style, but when you put them on, you will be amazed at how comfortable they are.

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