The Danish-born designer set up women’s footwear brand Sargossa to be the height of fashion – and comfort
Comfortable stilettos might sound like an oxymoron, but that’s what Nanna Liv wanted to create when she set up footwear label Sargossa in 2014, after two-and-a-half years of research. Since then, the brand has picked up more than 20 UK stockists and Liv, 27, has been nominated for Footwear Designer of the Year in this year’s Drapers Footwear Awards.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I grew up in Aalborg, northern Denmark. I worked in retail since I was a young teenager – I had always wanted to study engineering but I was eventually pulled into fashion. After working as a teacher in Japan, I returned to Denmark to study Purchasing Management for Fashion at TEKO Design and Business School in Herning. After graduating, I worked for jewellery brand Pandora as retail area manager for London and the Southeast, where I was responsible for opening 28 stores in and around the capital.
What sparked your interest in fashion and how did you get into footwear?
I have always been fascinated by the fashion industry – especially the fast pace and the need for constant innovation. At the same time, I’d always wanted to become an entrepreneur, and to bring something new to the market. It was while I was climbing the career ladder that the opportunity presented itself. When working at trade fairs with Pandora, I would spend entire days on my feet and grew frustrated with the pain caused by my heels. Trainers were not an option; I wanted to wear heels as part of my professional appearance. I sensed a gap in the market for stylish yet practical heels and so Sargossa was born.
How would you describe the Sargossa aesthetic?
It is clean and minimal, but there is always a twist to the design. [Wholesale prices range from £44.50 to £140.]
Who is your customer?
Sargossa is designed with the professional woman in mind. I want to bring functionality and comfort to the feet of style-conscious women. The typical Sargossa customer wants high quality and comfort without compromising on style.
What sets Sargossa shoes apart?
The way we build the stilettos with a special platform and a very soft insole is unique. We focus on the entire customer experience, which is why the shoes are delivered in hand-cut boxes with dust bags. The unique engraved quotes on the soles are a Sargossa signature, and an important part of our identity.
Are there any celebrities you would love to see wearing the shoes?
I think celebrities have the same problem as every other woman when it comes to finding comfortable and sexy stilettos. We are all in the same boat. I would love to have as many women wearing Sargossa as possible.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I spent more than two years trying to develop a comfortable stiletto. It was hard work and there were a lot of disappointments along the way. So I must say, the highlight was the day I had a finished prototype in my hand that I was really happy and satisfied with. Being selected for the V&A museum’s Pleasure & Pain exhibition later this year [it runs from June 13 to January 31, 2016] was a real milestone; as is being shortlisted for the Drapers Footwear Designer of the Year Award 2015.
What do you enjoy doing outside of running Sargossa?
Spending time at the gym, and also socialising in [private members’ club] Soho House. I also like to walk my dog, Bjorn, around some of London’s beautiful parks.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I love working with something I’m truly passionate about and it makes me really proud to see what a difference Sargossa is making for so many women.
And the worst?
It is very hard to switch off from work. I’m always thinking about the next new style, colour, conversation or phone call. As an entrepreneur, I guess it’s a learning process, and something that will hopefully get easier over time.
What is the most treasured item in your wardrobe?
It has to be my assortment of rather expensive designer handbags and, of course, the entire first collection of Sargossa heels.
What’s next for Sargossa?
Women deserve stylish and comfortable stilettos and it is our mission to deliver this to as many as possible. To do so, this coming year will be all about spreading the news and doing our best to meet demand. We want to make comfort the new sexy. We will keep a strong focus on the product, and on the development of new styles that appeal to our customers.