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Meet Alexandria Wills

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alexandria Wills.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ve been an explorative maker my whole life. Always enjoyed learning and creating new things. So when I learned how to make shoes it was just about the coolest thing in the world to me and I couldn’t stop! I began my business about 4 years ago now and when I started I wasn’t making shoes actually. I started off making jewelry, handbags, clothing, posters, sculptures and just about anything I could creatively think up.

Luckily, other people thought my work was cool enough to purchase so I was able to create a living off of it and started my business. Slowly, I learned how to market myself, developed my own style and sold my work all over Chicago and online. Shoemaking came about 3ish years ago when I took my first class and told myself I was going to develop it into my business.

I moved to New York City to further my studies and work with other shoemakers. Soon after, I began offering shoes to my clients they became a great hit and now all I have time for is custom shoe orders and new styles – which I love!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No small business owner ever has a smooth road, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. It’s even harder when you’re trying to make a living off of shoes where your competition has huge overseas factories and insane budgets. I guess the main struggles for me are finding the right customer who truly understands the art of handmade shoes.

It takes a lot to explain that I actually make these shoes from scratch, with my hands, and no other workers. Most people have never seen a shoe being made before or know what hours go into the process. I do always enjoy teaching people about my process though, and even about their own shoes so that they can learn the healthiest styles to wear on their feet.

Please tell us about Alexandria Wills.
Oh jeez, okay so I make shoes. I also make many other things but really am known for my shoes right now. I make all kinds of shoes: sneakers, boots, sandals, boat shoes, dress shoes, wedges – everything! I am most proud of the custom aspect of my business. People can literally hit me up for any kind of design and I am able to bring it to life. I also just love being my own boss and making stuff for a living.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Well, I just signed a lease for a new storefront that I am opening in Logan Square, Chicago and it has been a dream for the longest time to have something like this. I am calling it a storefront/studio because I will be making, teaching, and selling art to the community and just doing cool entrepreneurial artist related things.

It is a huge milestone in my book and I have dreamed about having a space like this for so long that I just can’t believe it is a real thing now. Also, it happened literally the day before my 23rd birthday so you can guess how much more it meant to me.

Pricing:

  • Shoes range from $150-$1,200 depending on style and customization
  • Handbags and other items anywhere from $50-$300

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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