Ask any business owner, and the last thing you expect to hear is that sales aren’t at the forefront of the company’s agenda. But that’s exactly the sentiment shoe designer Sarah Flint stands behind with her first pop-up shop, reflecting an authenticity that may prove key to survival as countless brick-and-mortar stores struggle to stay open.
“I think it’s about picking the right spaces to display your brand and not have them only be about selling the product but rather about an experience,” she told FN at the preview for her pop-up in NYC on Monday, one day ahead of opening the doors to the public. The shop is designed to feel homey and inviting, with nods to Flint’s own living room. The brand’s fall offerings and popular styles line the walls amidst trailing vines and preserved flowers, blue and white China like the kind Flint has in her own home and a small table with freshly baked cookies.
Walk-ins are accepted, but customers can also schedule one-on-one styling sessions to help them find their perfect match. What’s more, the pop-up offers free repair services for the brand’s shoes. “It’s important to have people come and learn what your brand is about, without that pressure to really shop,” Flint explained. “I’m happy if people just come in here, have a cup of tea, learn about our craftsmanship and then go tell their friends about us or order online.”
There’s also a charitable component to the space. Shoppers can donate any lightly worn shoes there; they will be repaired and in turn donated to Soles4Souls, a nonprofit that provides relief by distributing shoes and clothing around the world. Customers who donate in-store will be given a credit to purchase Sarah Flint shoes. The designer also created a luxe version of the brand’s Natalie flat, inspired by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl With the Pearl Earring”; all proceeds from sales of the flat from will be donated to the Lower East Side Girls Club. The shoes, currently on display, are fabricated with genuine pearls, hand-pleated Italian satin and 18-karat gold. Pricing for the flats is available upon request.
Since its founding in 2013, Sarah Flint’s brand has grown fast. Its chic yet comfortable styles have made fans of celebrities like Meghan Markle and Amal Clooney. Last year, Flint expanded her team from eight to 13 and moved into a new, larger office space after switching to a direct-to-consumer model. According to Flint, the company aims to open more pop-ups across the country and eventually a location for a physical store.
“Every designer dreams about their space in real life and what that looks like — the total manifestation of the brand where everyone is able to touch and feel everything in person. This latest opportunity is just incredible,” she said.
The current pop-up is located on 372 West Broadway St. in Soho and will be open through mid-December.
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