2020 has been full of unknowns – uncertainty upon uncertainty, sadness, confusion and a perennial mental fatigue which latched on to us in March and has followed us for the best part of the year. In the midst of all this, however, among the rubble and the chaos, is also where we were able to find joy, resilience and strength. In a nod on public transport, dancing around each other in the supermarket chaos or in a social connection through the blue-light of our screens. One of these connections is Simona Rusk, founder of Simona Rusk London and someone who is all-too familiar with the life rollercoaster of grief, uncertainty and joy. We knew we simply had to interview Simona for our Christmas features in light of her sheer courage, determination and resilience – as Simona says, this year has taught us to find joy in the small things and what’s more joyful than her beautiful shoes? Grab a cuppa or a festive brew and snuggle up, this interview truly is one of our favourites.
How did your business journey with Simona Rusk London begin?
I had been working for a large international bank in the city when the sudden loss of my mother and my own serious illness made me question what I wanted to do. I had learnt to hand-make shoes for fun and was wearing a pair when I was stopped by someone who admired them. I had lost a lot of confidence when I was ill and this simple gesture was such a boost. It made me realise that this could be a way to combine my love of design, to commemorate my mom and to do something that could also make other women feel beautiful and content.
What does your design process look like?
When I wasn’t well, I would spend time at the Wallace Collection and the V&A to lift my spirits. They are a source of inspiration for me, as are the beautiful interiors of National Trust stately homes. I also have books on historical costumes and shoes that I use as reference. Once I have the concept for a collection, I try to get a feel for the 3D version by draping fabric, sketching by hand or playing around in photoshop. I like to try something new with each collection – whether that’s designing a new fabric or developing an embroidery or embellishment.
The most important part of my design process is seeing what my Instagram followers are wearing and doing. I try to think of their different personalities and what silhouettes and colours they might like. Ideally, whether you are looking for something sweet and demure or a little more sassy, I want you to be able to find something within my collections that fits how you want to feel.
What does Christmas look and feel like to you?
I love Christmas – having people you love around you, celebrating the good memories of the year, eating too much, and the excitement of seeing someone opening a gift that I have given them. They are all the things that make Christmas special for me. But it’s not just about the day itself – it’s the excitement of a build-up too. Since I grew up in South Africa, having a cold Christmas is still a novelty. I love the Christmas lights and our neighbourhood fair, the chaos of late night shopping and the general air of frivolity.
How will you be spending Christmas and the festive season?
This year is full of unknowns. But hopefully, it will be spent at our home, with my husband’s family and my dad. I will try not to burn down the house cooking a full traditional Christmas lunch. We will also have a new puppy in the house, which will be a source of joy – and chaos. I think, if anything, this year has taught me to appreciate the little things and just being able to be together for it will make it special.
This interview is a brilliant example of how resilience and hard-work (not to mention a great pair of shoes!) can make all the difference. We hope you’ve enjoyed it and that it has inspired you to enjoy the little things this Christmas and look ahead to the new year with new-found optimism and hope – the best truly is yet to come.
The Squiggles Team X