Sophia Weston's inspired personal collection has been directly influenced by her childhood, spent on the coast of Jersey. Wet suits, sharks, scuba gear—all central influences of Sophia's art. Her passion for men's footwear developed into a line of nautical yet feminine women's shoes. I met Sophia in college, at the Savannah College of Art and Design – class of 2012. Getting to know her and watching her personal collection develop has been a great inspiration to me as an artist and filmmaker. Making shoes is such a unique niche to dive into, no pun intended. Sophia's collection of women's shoes danced along the lines of sportswear all through college and landed her a job at Nike in Portland.
Caroline Aylward: How did you know that footwear design was your calling?
Sophia Weston: There are an abnormal amount of pictures of me wearing heels as a baby. My shoe collection has always been huge. Learning how to make them has been a blessing and a curse because now their craftsmanship is extremely important to me.
CA: And so you decided to study footwear and accessory design in college?
SW: I was originally applying to school for painting and illustration, leaning more towards fashion. So I looked into taking fashion classes and then discovered that Savannah College of Art and Design offered footwear and handbag design. I went into the footwear room and couldn't stop asking questions...and I never ask questions.
CA: Do you ever wear your own shoes?
SW: Oh yeah. I have to. I wear my own shoes to understand them better—so I can feel how they need to be adjusted. I always want to learn as much as possible and wearing them is a great way to do that.
CA: How do you get to and from work in Portland?
SW: I take the MAX to Nike campus every morning. It's such an easy walk from the train to campus. It's so strange though—everyone takes their bike on the train to bring with them to campus. Portland has a big bike culture. I think I am the only one that lives here that doesn't have a bike. I am still the outcast of Portland. I don't understand the bike culture or beer culture. I am told I am going to get it once the summer hits... Maybe after the summer I will be a Portlander.
CA: How does Portland compare to small town living in your hometown?
SW: It's so different. It's like night and day. I've met a lot of people from the east coast which is nice. Adjusting to the spread out nature of the west coast was hard. It's a very different vibe out here, it's hard to explain. People are really friendly even if they don't know you. It's a lot more laid back, which is a lot like Savannah so it's been a natural transition.
CA: How has Portland affected your work?
SW: I have been so inspired here. I started mixing perfume. I bought all of these canvases and got out all of my paints. I am so ready to start another project. My sketchbooks are full of ideas—to create anything, not necessarily footwear. I just knitted two huge scarves for my mom and sister with a few co-workers. We get together once a week for “Stich and Bitch”--we just drink wine, talk and knit. It's a lot of fun.
CA: What do you see for yourself in the future? Any new shoes in the works?
SW: I have been so encouraged to keep working on my personal collection. I am looking to expand on the Pointe shoe to see where that technology tool can lead me. I have all of my tools here in Portland so I have been experimenting with different materials and playing around with new ideas—keeping the creative juices flowing.
Video by Caroline Aylward
Black & white photos by Kelsey Heinze.