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Annie Mohaupt, Shoes

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Annie Mohaupt
In 2005, Annie Mohaupt walked away from a successful career as an architect to pursue her passion for building something very different—made-from-scratch, customizable shoes! 

Have you always worked with your hands?
Yes – I grew up on a sheep farm, and would see my mom shearing the sheep, spinning the wool into yarn, weaving the yarn into fabric, and sewing the fabric into clothes. I was fascinated with the idea of transforming natural materials into something both functional and beautiful.

What drew you to your chosen craft?
I always had an affinity for shoes – especially wood-soled shoes, after living in Denmark for a year as an exchange student. Later, with a basement full of woodworking tools for a home renovation, I decided to see if I could make some wood-soled shoes for myself. After A LOT of trial-and-error, I decided to sell my new creations at a local craft fair, and they were a hit! I decided to quit my career in architecture to pursue shoemaking.

What do you enjoy most about your craft?
I love the sense of accomplishment when finishing a pair of custom shoes. Knowing the pain that some people endure wearing uncomfortable shoes, and to be able to create a pair of shoes that will not only relieve the pain, but also improves that person’s quality of life, is a great reward.  

Do you feel like you are still learning?
Absolutely – every day my partner Justin and I are still learning and improving our shoemaking techniques.  I love referencing my background in engineering and building, as well as incorporating developing technologies, in our designs. While I highly value the personal touch that human hands bring to a handcrafted item, I’m also fascinated by new crafting techniques that are made possible with emerging 2D and 3D digital fabrication tools. Continuing in the spirit of the Bauhaus, we’re excited about exploring the intersection of design, technology and craft.

If you could spend a day with a master of your craft (past or present), who would it be and why?
I’d love to spend the day with master shoemaker Marcell Mrsan. Not only is he among the best shoemakers in the world, he works tirelessly to promote the craft of traditional, truly handcrafted shoemaking, and has built a great international online community around this increasingly rare occupation.

HCA101B_Screen015-jill's shoes 2Is there any one person who has bought/used any of your products that makes you especially proud?
While several celebrities own my shoes, I am most proud of making shoes for women who have very unusually-shaped feet, such that they simply can’t wear mass-produced shoes. For them, a pretty pair of shoes that fits well can be literally life-changing, and it’s super gratifying to be part of that.

Why is it important for people to make things with their own hands?
When you’re making something with your hands, you’re forced to be in the moment. Personally, when I’m making shoes, I love that I get to focus fully on my current task – it helps to get out of my head for at least a few hours every day.

In what ways are handmade goods better than those that are mass-produced?
Handmade goods have more “soul” – they’re something you cherish. Every time I use or wear an item where I know the maker, I feel more connected to that item and use it more thoughtfully. Yet we’re in an era where most goods are considered disposable, which is terrible for human laborers, animals, and the environment. I believe in possessing fewer, but higher-quality and more meaningful things. That said, we’re entering an interesting new era: the third industrial revolution, where digital technology is changing the way we live. While I strongly believe in preserving the most traditional, hands-on forms of craft, I’m also personally interested in how traditional crafts can combine with emerging technologies to create meaningful objects that are still accessible to the masses.

Visit Annie’s Website