After the birth of their first daughter, designers Karolina and Akira Nishii came up with a unique gifting idea - shoe-making kits, which allow the giver to create a pair of leather booties, sneakers, pumps or moccasins. First Baby Shoes was born soon after - and, as the innovative brand prepares to make its debut at Bubble, we've been catching up with founder Karolina...
Hi Karolina! When and where was First Baby Shoes founded?
First Baby Shoes is a family run business, and was started in May 2013. Our small factory and design office are located in southern Poland.
How did you come-up with the idea of shoe-making kits?
We are parents to two little girls. When the older was born, we wanted to celebrate her birth by making something special for her. We love shoes, and in the past we've had the chance to make leather shoes for ourselves - so we decided to make a pair for our girl as well. While creating shoes for our little girl we realised how fun it is to make something with your hands, and how much satisfaction it brings. Watching her taking her first steps in cute baby shoes sewn by us was just unforgettable! We decided to share this feeling with others and started our little shoe making kit business. We did lots of research to find the best suppliers, and also studied footwear design and shoemaking.
What does each kit include? And what does the shoe-making process entail?
Each kit includes everything you need to create a pair of baby shoes - from leather pieces, soles and insoles, to needles and special thread. There are also easy, step-by-step sewing instructions, and we provide video tutorials and sewing tips on our website. Even novice sewers can bring our shoes to life!
The shoe-making process is very simple; the sewer just needs to pull the thread through the holes already punched in the leather pieces. We have models with different difficulty levels - from easy ones where you only need to sew together two parts, to more complicated designs. Nevertheless, all of them are designed in a way that makes the sewing as easy as possible. One shoe takes 50 - 70 minutes to make.
Could you tell us a bit about the look and design of the shoes?
The shoes that can be made from our kits have a very traditional look. We tried to make little shoes that we as parents would like to wear! We have lace-up booties and sneakers, little ballerina-style booties and baby boots. They are all very classic, but still unique.
We know that baby feet are delicate, so we did a lot to make sure that our shoes are comfortable as well as cute. Soft upper leathers and thin but durable soles allow natural barefoot like movement. Our soles also provide traction in case a little walker is contemplating his first steps. The materials we use are breathable and very light.
Why have you decided to show at Bubble London's A/W16 edition?
So far we have taken part in a number of local kid's fairs in Poland, but we felt that it was high time for us to show our brand abroad, too. As we had heard and read so many good things about Bubble London, we thought it would be a great place for us to show our brand. We also feel that Bubble attracts the kind of audience that would be interested in our product.
Could you tell us a bit about how you are preparing for the show?
Right now we are brainstorming how to design our stand in a way that will communicate the idea behind our brand. We're hoping to find new trade opportunities and possibilities to grow at the show. For us, it will also be a great chance to share our ideas and meet people visiting and showing there.
What advice would you give to other brands thinking of showing at Bubble this season?
As we are showing at Bubble for the first time this season, it's hard to advise! However, we think that the most important thing is to plan everything carefully - and, during the show, to just enjoy it and take the most from the whole Bubble experience!
Great advice, Karolina! We're looking forward to meeting you.
Fancy seeing First Baby Shoes for yourself? Register for your free ticket here. Or, if you'd like to show alongside Karolina and Akira, you can apply for a stand at our A/W16 show.