FN Shoe Star: Meet the Final Six Contestants

Hyojin Choi
“I grew up in South Korea and started studying art in the eighth grade. I have a passion for thinking about new ideas and styles.”

Strength: “I am especially strong with sketches.”

Weakness: “My thinking process takes a while. And I’m up against a language barrier.”


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Presentation strategy: “The only way to impress them is by coming up with great designs. As long as my presentation is good, [I think I will be OK].”

Biggest competition: “Rachel. Her shoe for the audition was really good. And she grew up with a mother who’s a designer.”


Keena Fleming
“There is something so intriguing about wearable art, and I feel I have something creative to offer the design world.”

Becoming a designer: “Growing up in [St. Crois], away from the mainstream, I was never really aware of the shoe industry until much later in my life. But still, I always wanted to design shoes.”

Strength: “I’ve always been interested in fine arts. I try to incorporate my artistic abilities into my design technique.”

Weakness: “I’m bad at thinking of [pieces] as one. It’s hard to narrow things down.”

Presentation strategy: “To present [my work] with a story behind it. Designers are so much more interesting when they have something to say that will capture someone’s attention.”

Biggest competition: “Hyojin. She’s very crafty and detailed.”

Rachel Fishbein
“My mother is a designer and ever since I was a little girl, I would go into her studio to draw, paint and design clothes and accessories.”

Strength: “I know a lot about the design industry. I grew up knowing how everything works.”
Weakness: “I’m a perfectionist.”

Play it safe or take a risk? “Definitely take a risk. The judges don’t want to see something they see every day; they want something unusual.”

Presentation strategy: “Do lots of research and give it everything I’ve got.”

Biggest competition: “Everybody brings something different, so it depends on the judge and designer, but Hyojin is a really good artist.”


Matthew Ciszek
“When I was about 10 years old, I cut up one of my father’s polo shirts and hand-stitched it together into a little [makeup] pouch for my mother. I didn’t realize one day I would be a designer.”

Strength: “I come from a menswear background and bring a different perspective.”

Weakness: “Designing women’s shoes. I’ll have to change the way I think.”

Play it safe or take a risk? “I think some risks are necessary, but you shouldn’t go too crazy.”
Presentation strategy: “I am just going to be myself.”

Biggest competition: “Obviously, Maggie and Rachel, but there is pretty good competition all around.”

Shannon Ramiza
“I have a high-heeled shoe [tattoo] on my wrist to tell the world I’m meant to be a shoe designer. I live and breathe shoes.”

Strength: “My hand-sewing skills. I can do all kinds of tiny details.”

Weakness: “Time management. I’m a procrastinator.”

Play it safe or take a risk? “Take a risk. Sometimes you might fall harder, but this is the time in my life to really go for it.”

Presentation strategy: “Stay positive and just be myself.”

Biggest competition: “Rachel. She’s one of my close friends, and she comes from an artistic family.”

Maggie Kervick
“I discovered my love for accessories by accident when I was 14. I made a bag out of an ‘I Love NY’ T-shirt, and everyone at my high school wanted one.”

Strength: “Putting together ideas and presenting them. I’ m also very aggressive and won’t allow anything or anyone to stand in the way of my goals and dreams.”

Greatest challenge: “Competing against my peers in the sense of their design vs. mine.”

Presentation strategy: “It will always be nerve-wracking, but what will keep me calm is that I’ll know what I’m presenting.”

Biggest competition: “Probably Matthew. We’ve competed before, and he’s incredibly strong. He knows what it takes to bring something new to the table, just as I do.”


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