I met Laura (the creative mind behind Moses Grace) via Linkedin! A rather unusual way to start some sort of relationship since of all social media this one is strictly work related… not exactly Facebook where you can be friendly. In any case, our meeting point was common ground: shoes to be exact! Well, since I’ve met her quite recently I wanted to know her and her label a bit better, and of course share it with you! So here it goes!
Alma: Let’s start with the obvious here… why a business in footwear?
Laura: I don’t know why footwear. But maybe it was because I learned it first as a construction site, building from the ground up. I found this newly understood building of a shoe fascinating. (Not the shoes made from machines but by hand, bespoke) and I like leather, and I know I can create even more beautiful shoes than those out there. Every shoe is a contest with myself to make a finer one.
A: I hear you learnt how to make cowboy boots! Well, that’s intriguing to say the least, tell me more…
L: There is no more iconic shoe to American culture than cowboy boots. They’re not only representatives freedom, perseverance, and love of country, but a particular rugged grace. There are so many steps to building a boot, linear really. Lots of patience and handling of product is necessary. You have to get your hands dirty, very dirty.
‘There is no more iconic shoe to American culture than cowboy boots. They’re not only representatives freedom, perseverance, and love of country…’
A: As I can see from your line you’ve stuck strictly to leather. I’m a fan of natural materials so this is great! Is this going to be a signature thing? Would you say you’ll venture at some point into fabrics or other materials?
L: I will never venture from top quality leather, but it may have hair on it occasionally!
A: You know I did a shoe making course once and my pair was made of felt! Took me a while, so to hear cowboy boots take months… gosh!!! Making then must be really hard. Tell me how do they come to life?
L: Starting with felt or fake leather is a good idea, so you don’t waste skins learning. Yes, there are (it depends on maker) 85 to 130 steps to building a quality boot by hand. Of course you must have a great shoe form (last) to start, a pattern (that you have drawn and created). You must cut, skive (thinning edges) stitch, stretch, hammer, pull. It is a workout! But with every pair one gets better. It has taken decades for the cowboy bootmakers of today to perfect those skills, and that is usually following apprenticeships from older and more skilled bootmakers.
A: Wow!!! Really would love to see that with my own eyes!
A: There’s obviously the country/cowboy feel in every one of your designs. What is it about these aspects that inspire you so much?
L: I’m inspired by ingenuity, the entrepreneurial spirit. People have lost that. I’m a capitalist so I believe in competition as the driver of not only pricing but creativity and dreams of how to better ourselves and society. I’m a believer in very small government interference. As it is now, in many parts of the world, creating a business is very trying as the government tries to hinder one in the way of taxes and regulations. So many great minds have been squashed because of this. I would promote the pioneer spirit in schools, instead of getting our children to follow as robots.
‘I’m inspired by ingenuity, the entrepreneurial spirit […] I would promote the pioneer spirit in schools, instead of getting our children to follow as robots.’
A: You have kept this first collection – I wanted to say classic but it’s not the right word – though the colour palette is in a way. Details are delivering the message without being overwhelming, and let me say I love the cylindrical heel! Tell me what else went on behind this collection, and what do you expect from future ones?
L: My collection is power built on wisdom I suppose. I have also lived in quite a few countries, the last being Switzerland. And if anyone takes anything from Switzerland it is to do every task perfectly and with best material. No one has a history of making true luxury as the Swiss. I feel the same with my shoes. The cylindrical heel will stay; it represents sturdiness and resolve. I will never have delicate shoes; I couldn’t walk in them anyway being always a bit of a tomboy!
A: Simple question. Do you consider yourself a cowgirl? (Obviously not in the strict sense of the word but maybe because of your background or heritage)?
L: Yes, I could have been a cowgirl. But I sure love urban style and attitude as well!
A: What about the label’s name? To me it has some sweetness to it. Does it mean something special, or how did you end up with it?
L: I struggled with the name for a long time; nothing fit. Then while walking through an old cemetery in Maine I saw in the corner a simple headstone, Moses Grace. That was it. I didn’t know who it was. Then at home I investigated and found that he was an early settler to Maine. He had a wife and four daughters who all predeceased him. It must have been quite a struggle surviving 200 years ago in this location, but he lived a long life anyway. I will portray this strength in my shoes and feel blessed and proud to be able to use his name.
A: Awwww, so definitely it is sweet in a way! Love the story… Surely he’ll be proud you chose his name!
‘I will never have delicate shoes. I couldn’t walk in them anyway being always a bit of a tomboy.’
A: Ok, I want to know more about you the person not you the designer… ready? Fashion first of course:
Most stylish city for you
L: Of the ones I visited, Milan or Rome. A toss up.
A: Do you have a fashion magazine addiction? If so, which one?
L: I don’t look at fashion magazines but I used to buy Dwell; the modern homes are great!
A: Fave designer? (That one had to pop up)!
L: My favourite designer has been early Alexander Wang. I am not a fan of overly produced items. I prefer those still made primarily by hand. Bespoke men’s footwear out of Italy, England, Mexico is beautiful, and Spain of course! The more footwear is produced just for money and not as art, the less value.
A: Best pair of shoes you ever had? (Excluding yours!)
L: The best shoes I ever owned was a pair of cowboy boots bought in Switzerland made in Italy. I love them so much I never wear them!
A: Really???? Cowboy boots made in Italy and bought in Switzerland! Hahaha that’s fabulous!
Now into the fun part of life (as if fashion wasn’t)!
Let’s do food:
A: If given the choice burger or salad?
L: Cheeseburger, medium with blue cheese!
A: Best comfort food for you
L: Cheddar popcorn, every day
A: Note to self: Got to try that!… Best place to eat in your hometown
L: I like The Hideaway. Its not fancy but it is always good
Sounds like Jeopardy but on travelling
A: Beach or countryside?
L: Country with a lake or pool
A: Nice!!! Best holiday spot
L: That’s difficult. I like to change it out. But I am poor now as a new company owner. I will give you that answer in a few years!
A: Hahahah ok… I’ll check on you when you’re rich and famous!
Leisure (films, books, TV) sounds like the next step to me!
A: Best film ever
L: Like Water Like Chocolate, and La Vie Est Belle
A: A TV series you totally obsess about, or did at some point
A: And for the interest of sounding a bit more intellectual… fave book?
L: There are too many
A: Wise!!! Hahaha
This has been loads of fun, at least for me. Thank you Laura and best of look with those wonderful shoes!