Lewes business Sass + Me making kids shoes with style
Children can inspire you in a number of ways.
For mum of five Rebecca Crosthwaite it was her youngest daughter, 10-month-old Saskia, which inspired the start of a new business.
Sass + Me was launched in February and sells soft, leather first shoes.“I love dressing my daughter up and wanted her to have shoes that looked like mini adult shoes,” explains Rebecca.“I started designing bits for her and it grew from there really.”
The range includes t-bar shoes, espadrilles, moccasins and ballerina shoes.“We launched at the end of winter so our first shoe was the Chelsea boot,” the Lewes resident explains. “I wanted something stylish and functional.“I was also keen that most of the designs were unisex so I used the dotty print and we have a nautical one for the summer.”
The sizes start at ages 0 to six months up to 24 months with the shoes for walkers having harder soles.“I found that shoes were either very cheaply made and unsupportive, or very expensive,” she reveals.“I didn’t understand why it should be so hard to find an affordable baby shoe that offers support, protection and comfort, as well being easy for the parent to put on. “The number of shoes that I found made from materials unsuitable for such tiny feet was incredible. “No parent wants to put a baby in shoes that make their child’s feet sweat, keep falling off or inhibit their progress in walking. “There seemed to be a real gap in the market for affordable, stylish leather moccasins and so, Sass & Me was born.”
Prices start at £22, and she is looking to add sneakers, other prints and boots to the range.“The name means that I can also incorporate clothes in the future,” she explains.“It is Sass after my daughter and I wanted to include myself in there as well.”
Rebecca is originally from Brighton and moved to Lewes when she came back from East Africa.“At 19 I had my backpack and went to volunteer in Tanzania and I didn’t come back for 12 years,” she recalls.“We lived in Moshi under Mount Kilimanjaro. It was a small ex-pat community and I ran a B&B there.“I loved how it felt out there, I loved the culture, the environment, the food - everything.“When we were looking to come back I thought the kids would be overwhelmed with Brighton. Growing up I spent a lot in Lewes so I knew it had the same close knit community we were used to in Tanzania.”
Designing the shoes herself Rebecca explains how she has always been creative.“My dad is an abstract artist and plays drums and bass, my brother is a jazz pianist, and my other brother is musical aswell, I didn’t get the musical gene but I did get the creative, design side.”
The business took three months to launch while Rebecca was on maternity leave.“I did a lot of research into my manufacturer.“They are made in Asia but I had loads of samples made to make sure it was the quality I wanted.”
Each season Rebecca is aiming to get new designs or prints released, and added the toddler shoes because parents asked for them.“My teenage daughter is 13 and keeps asking when I will make shoes for her as she loves the espadrilles,” laughs Rebecca, “but at the moment it isn’t really an area I’m considering, I may go up to ten year old sizes in the future though.”
Ten per cent of Sass + Me’s profit goes to a charity here in the UK that supports an orphanage in Tanzania called Hope Home.
To view the full collection, visit www.sassandme.com