CLAYTON, Mo. — St Louis has a rich history in the fashion world.
The old Brown Shoe Company was founded here in 1886. Now there is a new shoe in town.
The woman behind the brand left the tech world to surprisingly follow in the footsteps of her ancestors.
“I never thought of myself as creative,” Claire Flowers said. Yet all of these shoes in her store are her creations. “I never thought I’d be in fashion.”
She created the Claire Flowers shoe line.
She got into the business completely by accident, she said.
She needed a shoe that would hold up in today’s world.
“I just couldn’t find anything in the market that was durable and cute. You had to pick,” she said.
As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.
“I just wanted to stop thinking about what was on my feet and just go about my day,” Flowers said. So she stepped out to build a better shoe even though she did even know how to draw. “No, not a stick figure.”
Flowers contacted a maker in Brazil. She only wanted to make a few.
“They said they could only make 125 at a minimum.”
She made the order.
She kept 10 to herself and sold the extras to friends and family. And then she found some investors.
“They said you have to quit your job if we’re going to give you any money,” she said.
Stepping out on her own was a bit risky. “Even in year four, there were times when I thought, 'did I do the right thing?'"
But it’s possible that it was all meant to be. Flowers' grandmother calls it destiny.
“And she says, 'you know, shoes are in your blood. Both your great-grandfather on your dad and mom’s side worked in shoes. ...Yeah, I think it was definitely meant to be and this is the path for me.”
Flowers is proud of what the shoes do for the environment.
“This pump replaces five pairs of pumps," Flowers said. "So from a sustainability standpoint, I think I have an impact there.”
And for other women looking to step out and make an impact in the business world, she has this advice: “If you look at all of these challenges at once, you’ll never do anything. So it’s just one thing at a time. But you have to start.”
Flowers' shoe store is located at 7751 Carondelet Ave. in Clayton.