We’re excited to introduce this month’s Featured Maker at Manouche. Please welcome Kristin Joynt of KJ Made. If you’re not familiar with her work you’ll quickly fall in love with her minimalist, beautiful and comfort-based designs. We recently caught up with Kristin in preparation for her trunk show here in the shop.
How did you get your start designing and making shoes?
I first started making shoes about 8 years ago. A shoemaking class at the Chicago School of Shoemaking was the beginning. My education was in fiber design and shoemaking seemed to be a natural fit. It’s a very tactile, hands on experience. I’ve always been interested in how the combination of good materials and a simple design can create a thing of beauty.
What motivates you to create?
I’m always inspired by the materials. Sourcing a new leather makes me want to see what I can do with it. The process often generates way more ideas than I can possibly make.
What have been some things that have inspired and/or influenced your work?
I’m influenced by everything! I think as an artist, the creative process requires an abundance of stimulation, then what I call “the soup time.” The time to let it stir around internally until it is time to make something.
What design of yours is your favorite and why?
The three designs prevalent on my instagram are my favorites. The interesting thing about applying artistic sensibilities to a practical object, is that process improves it. It isn’t like making the same style over and over again, it’s making it better each time.
What are the advantages of choosing handmade shoes versus mass produced shoes?
There are advantages to both handmade and machine made shoes. The kind of person drawn to handmade goods values not only the quality of the item, but the soul of the maker. It isn’t possible to hand make something without pouring some of yourself into it. Call it love, soul, good juju or whatever you want. You get a piece of the maker with each handmade object. With shoes, you get two for the price of one!
Many people have 2 different sized feet. Are you able to personalize shoes to meet these differences?
I’m often asked how customizable my shoes are. They’re shaped over a form called a shoe last. I can make the right shoe on one size last and the left on a different size, but the last determines the fit. I only have shoe lasts in whole sizes because there’s such a small difference between whole and half sizes. The design of the flat frequently helps people with unusual foot sizes.
How long does it take to make a pair of your shoes?
I like to have at least one week. I could probably make a pair in a day, but I wouldn’t be satisfied with the results. The process involves cutting the upper, heel and sole materials, wet shaping the leather on the shoe last, allowing it to dry in shape and finally, assembling and finishing.
Any plans/dreams for KJ Made in the next 5 years?
I don’t really have a 5 year plan. I like to think of this as an adventure, not as a business per se. I’m self funded, so I’m free to enjoy making shoes rather than having to meet business goals. That said, good work isn’t free and I’m a materials snob so I have a lot invested in each pair of shoes I make.
Come to the KJ Made trunk shoe at Manouche to see Kristin’s beautiful work in person.