Sarah Flint, the founder of her eponymous shoe brand, intent on redefining the luxury shoe market since 2013.
One of the things Sarah and I have in common is our respect and support of other female founders, and this value is how we actually met! A couple years ago she invited me to do an Instagram interview together, and we immediately connected on how our brands and customer base share so many similar values. I have always been a shoe girl and love Sarah’s designs, so a collaboration was a very natural evolution! I'm so pleased to have been able to get to know her a little over the past year or so—her gorgeous shoe designs, her own natural grace, and the wonderful company she has built are all things to be truly inspired by.
SteamLine Founder, Sara Banks
A photo from Sarah's honeymoon with our new collaboration capsule collection by @yssweddings
I am so thrilled that this collection is now live! There have been some moments along the way with pandemic delays, but I think it was worth the wait. It is such a beautiful collection, simply elegant akin to your brand on the outside, and then there is the lining—your own beautiful hand-rendered design! Were you trained as an artist?
I loved art as a kid, and took every class I could growing up. Being at home so much during the pandemic, I picked up watercolor painting again and rediscovered how much I enjoyed it. I was living in Massachusetts at the time and took a lot of inspiration from my mother’s garden. I did a lot of botanical studies, which later became my print designs.
The interior pattern is a hand-painted design that was inspired by old-world golden age travel and a design that I saw on vintage china. Transporting you back to the 1940s and ’50s to the awakening era of traveling in style, this is my favorite era as it opened up a new world of romance, adventure, and luxury.
Sarah Flint at work on the print that graces the collection's lining.
You are a fervent traveler for business and pleasure. You have a strong connection with the shoe artisans in Italy. Where are some of the other places you go that love to visit to fill the soul? And do you prefer to explore new places or revisit old favorite haunts?
I have always had a deep love for Europe. Some of my favorite places I’ve traveled to are the South of France, Morocco, Greece, and the UK. I love to explore new places, and find new inspiration in different parts of the world!
The next place I want to go is India. I’m excited just thinking about all the colors, prints, and patterns.
Sarah in Italy where her shoes are made.
Can you tell us about your origin story? Both of us created our brands because we desperately wanted something that we couldn’t find. For me, I wanted beautiful luggage that elevated the experience of travel, and for you, it was a classically elegant shoe that was comfortable enough to take women where they needed to go. Both of us are driven by aesthetics and function in our products. Can you tell us about your origin story and your journey as an entrepreneur?
I’ve always been drawn to shoes and fashion—a love I got from my grandmother, who was this incredibly chic artist in Paris. I studied design at FIT, Parsons, and then Ars Sutoria in Milan, where I learned patternmaking alongside the artisans in the factories. However, I noticed there that luxury shoe brands only really focused on editorial styles. There wasn’t an emphasis on comfort or styles that a woman could wear every day. That’s when I started to question why luxury shoes couldn’t be stylish and comfortable.
Sarah in her element.
We are both huge supporters of other female businesses. Have you any role models in business or leadership styles that you have adopted from other female mentors? I believe some of your early investors were some very inspiring and wonderful women. How have they helped you on your journey?
Leslie Blodgett, one of my mentors, told me early on to not be afraid to knock on every door. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. She also taught me the importance of being in tune with your customer. When Leslie was the CEO of Bare Essentials, she’d set aside time every week to take customer service calls. For me, taking calls from customers or spending time with them in our stores has helped me create a brand that always puts their needs first.
Your brand believes slow and careful makes for not only better shoes, but better experiences. More than ever, we believe that the importance of slowing down when you travel to fully savour the details and experience of a new people and place. How are some ways you incorporate this slowness into your everyday life and have it permeate through your business or leadership style?
In my personal life, I appreciate small gestures that take time, like handwriting a note instead of jotting off an email. Similarly, in our stores, I want customers to feel at home—to know these are places they can sit down, have a cup of tea, and feel welcomed instead of rushed.
You have a fantastic and amazing Brand Ambassador Program. How has this helped shape your designs, affected fit, and led to product and brand insights?
Our Brand Ambassador Program allows us to really connect with the women who wear Sarah Flint shoes, and it also allows us to receive excellent feedback. The Ambassador program takes the community to the next level; our ambassadors are an extension of the Sarah Flint family, and we value their insight. We want to hear what they love about the brand, what they're most excited for, and the features in shoes that they are looking for. It’s a vital resource to us as we are able to get feedback on upcoming collections, and helps us make decisions on product features, colorways, and overall improvement to the assortment.
Photo by @stacieflinner
"My love for travel was the main inspiration behind our partnership... Traveling and seeing the world is often how I get inspiration for my designs. I’m not a light packer—I bring lots of clothes and shoes. I love SteamLine’s vintage and modern look, which led me to an exciting collaboration on a full suite of luggage."
I am not sure if you heard, but our social media was recently hacked and they deleted eight years worth of content. It was terrifying, but we got it back. And it made me realize the importance and dependence we have on social media. How do you use social media within your business, and what is your personal relationship with it like these days? And on the flip side, what are some ways in which you power down?
For the brand, we use social media to connect with our community. We love engaging with our followers and hearing what they have to say. We also use it for storytelling, bringing editorial campaigns to life, showcasing our shoes, and further defining the brand’s point of view.
Personally, I like using social media as a way to connect to my customers. Their insights and experiences are so important to me.
As for powering down, I usually unplug by spending time outside, swimming, hiking, or walking with my family’s dogs.
You are recently married (with the pandemic rendering two fabulous celebrations)! How did you and your husband meet and where is home now?
We originally matched on Bumble in 2017. On the app, the girl has to reach out first, but I got too busy at the time and never ended up contacting Sean. A little while later I got a message from Sean on LinkedIn (of all places) asking me out! He didn’t want to risk not matching with me again, and his gamble apparently paid off!
Right now, we live mainly in NYC, but we spend a little bit of time in Massachusetts too.
Newlyweds Sarah and Sean during wedding festivities at Broughton Sanctuary in Yorkshire, England.
Vogue Magazine recently shared that visits to their wedding-centric content amounted to 25 percent of Vogue’s overall online traffic, up 56 percent year-on-year. Have you seen a surge in demand for wedding shoes? SteamLine recently launched a new wedding collection as well, and we found that there was a great interest.
Definitely—especially since the surge of weddings following 2020. Wedding shoes have always been an important part of the Sarah Flint brand. I love being able to help a bride feel beautiful and special on their big day.
What are some goals you have over the next couple of years—personally or professionally?
A big focus right now is retail. We recently opened storefronts in Nashville and Dallas, and Atlanta is coming soon. We love providing an in-person experience and connecting with our customers this way! Looking in the future, we hope to have Sarah Flint stores in other major cities! Our 10th year anniversary is coming up in 2023, and we are so excited for what the next decade holds!