Hi, I'm Nicole! I founded NicoNine in Brooklyn, NY in 2016, after spending two decades searching for stylish, comfortable and affordable flats and low-heeled shoes that fit my narrow feet.
I've been buying (more like collecting) shoes that don’t fit and that I don’t like for a long time. As someone who doesn't wear high heels and appreciates some color (outside of the black, brown, navy and red options), I've learned it's very hard to find reasonably-priced, stylish yet comfortable flat and low-heeled shoes. And even when they are available, they’re never made to fit a variety of women. As you know, shoes are often sold in whole-sizes and one standard width.
This ongoing frustration both challenged and inspired me to learn how to make shoes for myself. So one day in 2010, I enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and took courses on all facets of footwear (as well as some handbag classes), classes like the Anatomy of Footwear, Design and Construction, Leather Materials, and Sketching Accessories. It was an amazing experience. I learned to sew for the very first time, go leather and material shopping (dangerous!) and work with all the equipment needed to build a shoe by hand (with its gazillion steps). The only drawback was that these classes catered to students building portfolios and not built to support those focusing on making pairs of shoes for themselves.
In 2013, I finally found the shoe making environment I was searching for, when I discovered Keiko Hirosue, the founder of the Brooklyn Shoe Space, a co-working space for shoe enthusiasts. It was at BKSS that I started making shoes of my own designs through a variety of classes as well as working privately with Keiko. I gained invaluable experience in pattern making, sourcing materials, sewing and lasting. Unfortunately, I was still using lasts (shoe molds) that were not right for my feet and so none of the shoes fit.
It was only in 2015 that I invested in custom shoe lasts based on my feet’s very own dimensions - length, width and girth. I was finally able to design and create shoes that fit!
Here are pictures of the first shoes I made on my custom 8.5 AA lasts.
Occasionally, I would wear these treasured shoes out and, when I did, they would always attract attention. I started thinking that perhaps my design aesthetic, which I describe as modern, geometric styles in bold color combos, had a distinct point of view that others appreciate.
So here we are! In April 2016 I launched a campaign through Kickstarter to fund my first season's offering, the Athena (a bootie in two color variations). The support was amazing and I raised over 100% of my goal. Now I'm working on the second season's shoe and can't wait to put it up for sale (sign up below to get updates).