Salehe is someone I admire at a very high level because to me he represents what courage is in his decision to represent himself in footwear. The trend is definitely getting larger where designers are opting to be their own brand so to speak and work for many companies or solely create their own vision. But Salehe was one of the first incredibly talented designers I saw breakaway from the mainstream and figure it out for themselves.
It is not an easy decision to make and often times comes from failing and learning. But once you gather the information needed and learn the craft, your courage can become your vision.
Salute to Salehe for creating his own path.
“The most initially intimidating aspect of design is the consumer. Most, if not all aspiring footwear designers (and I was no different) are obsessing over primarily design, color, and lines. However, if one is lucky enough to reach the professional level, it’s almost a rude awakening to realize the “after school sketches” you’ve been doing your whole life now need to be sold to “human beings”. A theoretical graduation occurs where the final destination of your drawings transitions from parents refrigerator to store shelves.
In the early days of my career, this transition immediately made me second guess all of my decisions. A good or bad design decision ultimately creates a snow ball effect until it reaches the consumer (if it even makes it that far). Incorrect design decisions could result in higher costs, lower sales, or unsuccessful marketing. It’s kind of like pick up basketball. If you’re not performing on the court…you not picked. I spent 2 decades drawing sneakers where “amortization” wasn’t even a word I knew the definition of, so it was new territory to say the least.
I believe that my courage comes from my experience. The brands and products I have been fortunate enough to work with have given me more and more confidence that maybe I’m “OK” at this footwear thing. The from “my pencil to your foot” conversation is still, and probably will also be an intimidating one, but it also fuels the process. If I can continue to “learn” and “experience”, then hopefully the courage will continue to increase. I find it fascinating that most designers I know are minimal, humble, and soft spoken people. But when they “create” you see their energy, passion, emotion, and courage…So maybe design is courage. Or maybe I’ve tried to end this on too deep a note haha. I love my job! Thanks for your time!” – Salehe
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