Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Interview: Dawntroversial

With a mane of shocking pink hair, you would be right to assume 25 year old Dawn Smith isn’t likely to send a mundane pair of shoes out into the world. After turning a hobby into a business ‘Dawntoversial’ shoes was created. Why shoes? It started when she was a young child. In between tending for her pets, a jumble of goats, geese, peacocks and dogs, she seized any given opportunity to get creative. ‘I remember making my mum a pair of shoes when I was about four, out of cardboard and painted them. She put them on and politely said that they weren’t comfy enough to wear. I then took them away and put bubble wrap inside them for her. I thought that was so funny.’ She’s certainly come a long way in a short amount of time. Only just starting her business in July of last year, the X Factor has already borrowed five of her unique shoes, some of which are currently on tour with the X Factor contestants. More recently one of her designs, the wonderful ‘My Little Pony’ boots, were heavily photographed, blogged about and even featured on websites such as VICE and WGSN after being worn at London Fashion Week in February.

Living in Glasgow her whole life, she appreciates the city and the inspiration it gives her. ‘Glasgow is an amazingly fashion-orientated city full of great culture, people and architecture. I am constantly inspired by the people I know here and new people I meet all the time from models to designers. I also love seeing new ideas and business’ coming out of Glasgow. It’s amazing.’ Although it seemed an obvious path to follow, fashion wasn’t the route she initially went down. Instead, she decided to go to university and came out with an Architectural Design Degree which she uses to influence her work. ‘I couldn’t see myself not being involved in fashion in some way or another, I love it too much.’ Considering herself an artist rather than just a designer, she creates pieces of art on every shoe, slowly moving onto more sculptural and decorative looking pieces. ‘They’re all very outlandish and crazy.’

All of Dawn’s creations are hand made by the lady herself and she is proud to announce every customer receives their very own pair of personalised shoes. ‘Every shoe I make is bespoke so no one else will have the same pair of shoes as anyone else. I like speaking to each customer about exactly what they would like and creating something special for them. That matters most to me as a designer.’ A self-confessed night owl, ‘I always stay up until three a.m. every night’, she fuels herself with Radio One, green tea and chocolate which undoubtedly helps when spending up to three hours on one pair of shoes. It’s not as simple as sticking on a few gems here and a couple of studs there. ‘I have to waterproof them, lace them, wrap them up and post them. I have to Dawntroversialise them.’ Dawn’s signature style is a space or galaxy print shoe all of which she hand paints herself and to achieve this look it is essential she uses the perfect colour palette. ‘I love metallics, silvers, turquoises and purples. They work well together when creating cool, futuristic looking galaxy shoes. I love them looking edgy.’ It is clear to see that Dawn enjoys her craft and the creative aspect of her work but when asked what her favourite part of designing is she answered, ‘when a pair is finished and I deliver it to the customer or send it to them. The emails I get are amazing and the response is always positive. Making them happy makes me very happy.’ By giving her customers something as carefully thought about and personalised as her creations are, there is no doubt this helps her business go from strength to strength.

Dawn is currently preparing to showcase a new collection of fourteen ‘crazy shoes’ at Glasgow’s Nightwalk Fashion Show, founded by Angie Koorbanally for up-and-coming local designers, models and makeup artists to showcase their work. Considering she normally leaves everything to the very last minute and gets it done on next to no sleep, this is obviously a project she is very excited about. What’s her favourite pair from the collection? ‘A pair covered in cream lace with rainbow roses, lilac chains and small sugar skulls all over them.’ Oh, nothing too flamboyant then. To compliment her ridiculously unique footwear she has also been working on some one-off pieces of clothing too, favouring sheer fabrics, lace and netting, ‘there’s something a bit revealing and cheeky about these materials and having to layer them or wear them with a nice bra or body underneath.’ It’s going to be quite a show.

Considering the distance this talented woman has come in such a short amount of time it would be ignorant to suggest that she hasn’t got an exciting future lined up ahead of her. With plans to create more clothing, shoes and to visit Tokyo, ‘my friend and I have been discussing going to Tokyo with an empty suitcase and buying so many of the crazy, cool and cute things which are so reflective of the city style and harajuku girls’, her main fashion goal is to keep evolving her Dawtroversial business and present her work at more established fashion shows. For now. ‘I am constantly changing what I am doing and changing my mind in terms of my ultimate goal which I think is ok. I get bored easily. I might fall back on architecture of photography, I’m still finding my feet in the fashion industry but I’m sure I will slowly but surely move into the career path which is right for me.’ So, ultimately, where does success lie for this Scottish lass? ‘In happiness. I would rather be doing something I like and be poor, than be earning lots of money and be working my ass off in an office. Being my own boss is something I consider to be a sign of success, I love being in control so that makes me happy.’

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