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Using your hands to create changes everything.
I really and truly fell in love with craftsmanship and leather works only when I started working with my own hands. It was one thing to walk into a boutique or atelier and smell, experience and appreciate, but it was a completely different thing when I started executing the entire process from A to Z myself.
One’s love for design, product, and creation is one level, but the love of making is on a completely different one.
Think, research, sketch, experiment, draw, scribble, cut, sew, last, stick, glue, assemble, sample, prototype, create - and re-do.
It is a process and cycle, an infinite process that only ends when you might chose that this is the end. And after some time, it can be again. You take out what once was an end of something and use it as the beginning of something else, or re-visit it to improve or even perhaps destroy it as a whole keeping it only as a learning experience.
I worked on designs and samples, some of which were purely exploratory, but which were filled with stories and elements from research and experimentation. I arrived at the point where I wanted to share my creations, I wanted to produce simplified and wearable pieces that I loved, and that would tell a story to the world. In order to do this, I had to find partners who would understand me, not just my technical drawings, but who understood the concept and stories, who could see the brand as a lifestyle and help me bring it to life (discover the Rana Cheikha Brand process: 'How to Design a Shoe: Concept to Creation' here) .
I wanted to do this in parallel to advocating for the continuity of traditional shoe making, the truly hand-crafted product - from pattern making to cutting, sewing and assembling.
So I chose to work with a small group of handcrafters and business to bring exquisite leather shoes that have character. Shoes that are not perfect and out of a mould, but each a unique product with a story that can be brought to life through its wearer. I felt that I had discovered a beautiful world, and naturally felt the need to bring more people into it and support this beautiful industry that is slowly being taken over by the mass-produced. To maintain this, I choose to operate on the batch-process system. This means that no item is mass-produced, and that each piece is made with that bit more love and care.
The idea of the Rana Cheikha Brand is not to produce shoes and sell, but to create, educate and share.
It is to meet the person interested in my product and then establish a relationship.
It is a continuity of human interaction, to understand what brings us together when our lives and experiences may be so different.
It is about slowing down the interaction process and taking a long fresh breath, because that is what we need.
We are hustled and rushed and stressed in our lives, and the products that we are bombarded with seem to follow the same trend. But when the product is timeless, not a slave to the trend, and when it is made with the time and energy it needs, it will pass on that energy to you.
One may question – all this through shoes?
Yes, and not through the product alone, but through the concept, process and adventures and through parallel products too (read about 'Taking the Creative into Production' here) . The products we choose to use and wear will and should grow and change as our experiences and lives move forward.
Signing-off: Rana Cheikha for The Shoe Advisor
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