Equilibrio is excited to welcome House of Cinnamon, a producer of affordable luxury shoes and handbags, to our online shop. Finding stylish, locally crafted shoes of a European quality and aesthetic has frankly been challenging. It was this same challenge that led to founder, Frances Edwards, quitting her job in finance in 2013 and creating her own brand of luxury flats.
Listen to Frances tell her inspirational story about how the House of Cinnamon, previously Cinnamon Shoes, was born.
Inspired by cinnamon
We asked Frances about the origin of the unique brand name. “Cinnamon has always been one of my favourite spices”. She notes that cinnamon was highly prized among ancient civilisations and regarded as a gift worthy of monarchs and gods. It also adds a very distinctive flavour to food, giving ‘life’ to a wide variety of cuisines across many cultures. “In a similar vein, our high value House of Cinnamon products are luxurious and add spirit to any outfit and are treasured by our clients” says Frances.
Handmade South African luxury
All the House of Cinnamon shoes are handcrafted in Cape Town by a talented team of 6 artisans working under the watchful eye of an “amazingly talented cobbler who trained in Europe”. House of Cinnamon only uses the finest leather, suede, linen and other natural fabrics to make their luxury shoes which are produced in very limited quantities. “Our ranges are limited. You will therefore be one of a handful of people wearing a particular design. And then there’s our “limited editions” of which we make only one pair in each size.”
The House of Cinnamon bags are equally exclusive and made at a different facility also based in Cape Town. This factory, established in 1988, supports a further 30 local artisans.
Through House of Cinnamon, Frances has demonstrated that South African artisans can produce affordable luxury shoes and handbags that are as desirable as their international contemporaries. The added benefit to South Africans is that the price point is way more attractive to us and we get to support and stimulate local industry.
You can shop House of Cinnamon on Equilibrio here.
Q&A WITH FRANCES EDWARDS, FOUNDER & CREATIVE BEHIND HOUSE OF CINNAMON
What has been the most challenging part about building a locally manufactured shoe brand in South Africa?
I think the most challenging part is threefold, and the challenges are linked. Establishing a brand, and specifically a locally-produced South African one, is tricky. South Africans generally seem to love foreign brands and believe that imported goods and items are more desirable. However, I do get the feeling that this mind-set is slowly shifting. House of Cinnamon certainly has many very loyal clients who appreciate our high-quality shoes. We have been able to steadily grow our faithful client base over the last few years. The second challenge relates to sourcing and maintaining a constant supply of fabulous leathers and materials. And lastly, positioning House of Cinnamon. Getting the brand name out there, staying present and being current in social media. Becoming known, valued and trusted for quality and service, takes time, effort, patience and resilience.
What would you say has been the most valuable lesson/tool in the evolution of your collection and brand?
In the fashion industry, there is the notion that we need to constantly innovate, moving frantically to find something new and different, something that will keep clients interested. We have chased the seasons, providing ever more and in shorter intervals, captive to “fast fashion” and fleeting trends. I have come to realize that it is high time to re-evaluate this approach, to question our means and the costs of production and the ecological consequences of consumption, to re-think our responsibilities towards the environment and the people who work in the fashion sector.
These tough times are reinforcing my view that “less is more”, that artisanship should be appreciated and rewarded and that quality and value beats quantity and mass production. In light of this, House of Cinnamon has honed a distinctive collection of classic designs, perennial favourites and key products crafted with care and attention to detail. These have come to define our brand and we will continue to offer products that reflect this ethos.
We find ourselves in unprecedented and uncertain times. What piece of advice can you offer young designers and entrepreneurs attempting to build a career in fashion right now?
Indeed, as we try to navigate these difficult times, on a professional, economic, social and personal level, it might seem tempting to become overly anxious, worried and scared. Freezing up is an option. But we really cannot afford to do that.
While I do not have specific practical advice for getting through this period, there are a few general things I think are important to keep in mind. We don’t know when we are going to get through this and what will be expected of us at the end of this experience. We also don’t know to what extent the ‘fashion industry’ as we know it will be transformed and what threats we might have to face or what business prospects might open up.
However, in order to be prepared for whatever comes our way, we need to view “crisis” as “opportunity”. We not only need to draw on our reserves of courage, patience and resilience, but, more importantly, reignite our sense of imagination and taste for adventure. We need to keep an open mind position ourselves to nimbly react to gaps in flexible ways, proactively explore new options and consider uncharted paths. And keep up a spirit of hope and optimism.
What are your 3 favourite items from the House of Cinnamon collection?
I love all our designs, but if I would have to choose, my favourite favourite would be the pointed loafer. I wear my pairs throughout the year, in different fabrics and colours. When we started Cinnamon shoes, the pump was the most popular type. That changed to a classic round toe loafer and eventually we created the pointed loafer. My second favourite is the Suna boot, re-designed a few times with small tweaks. It is presently on offer as the AW20 Suna in a classic cowboy cut, always a winner with clients!
Lastly, the Simone sandal. I love how the style mixes up class, style and casual comfort. Everyone seems to love it and it is a great seller.
We know flats are your passion, but are there any plans for adding heels to the House of Cinnamon range?
Watch this space 🙂
Indeed, we will and can’t wait to see what Frances and House of Cinnamon create next!
SHOP HOUSE OF CINNAMON ON EQUILIBRIO
We are obsessed with the House of Cinnamon range of pointed flats which offer a super stylish take on the traditional ballerina pump. We’re equally in love with the classic Suna boot, which is going to be the Equilibrio boot of choice this season, as well the use of animal prints in the House of Cinnamon collection.
Shop House of Cinnamon online with Equilibrio here.
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