Getting littles to keep their shoes on is no easy “feat.” “Kids don’t lie. If they don’t like something, they will tell you. If they hate the shoes, they won’t wear them,” said Cassie Zakurdayev. “It makes me happy to come across picture and stories of my shoes being worn to everyday things. When the kiddos love the product as much as the parents, it makes life easier.”
Zakurdayev is the Cassie of Classy Cassie Collection, the small shop known for its handmade leather footwear. Classy Cassie’s most popular style is the shop’s soft sole foldover boots with laces and a snap at the top. It takes Zakurdayev about three hours to complete each pair. “I think the classic style fits the needs of most kiddos. It is the easiest to put on and has a versatile look.” Like many designers, Zakurdayev draws inspiration from all over. “Sometimes it is a fabric I love. Sometimes it is a need to be filled. Sometimes it is the way something makes me feel. Sometimes it is a color I see in nature,” she shared. “My biggest challenge is finding the balance between functional and fun. There are several elements in shoe making that can’t be altered too much or it takes away from functionality.”
The leather designer actually found her start making scarves. “When my son Vincent was a couple months old, I was trying to navigate what I was going to do for work now that I was a mother. I knew I wanted to stay home with my son, but transitioning from two full time incomes to one was a big change. I wanted to find a way to help contribute to my family financially and also find something for myself,” Zakurdayev recalled. “Motherhood is hard and there are many sacrifices, but it is important to keep some of ourselves present.” The crafty mom conferred with friends and decided to take a leap. “I started my business with $70 worth of fabric from fabric.com and a simple infinity scarf pattern. I vividly remember sitting on my living room floor, at 11 at night, watching Glee and cutting fabric after I put my son to sleep.” Vincent, now 5 (and his sister Olivia, 1 ½), influenced Zakurdayev’s move into footwear. “A couple months went by and I kept finding myself struggling to find shoes that fit my chubby footed baby. My husband didn’t like the look of the popular leather moccs and most of the cool shoes we both liked were based outside the U.S. This sparked the idea of making a shoe that was chubby foot friendly, stayed on and was husband-approved. So far, I think we are nailing all three.”
After five years, Zakurdayev still considers her original designs and use of high quality materials to be paramount to the small shop’s success. “Every pair is handmade by me, designed and developed from scratch. I want my shoes to last, be desired from a design standpoint and function as they should, i.e., stay on,” she exclaimed. “I am still a one woman show. I have had five years of practice and fine-tuning. I am no longer in the beginning stages, but I am always trying to find ways to make my products better. Not only are they made well, they are made with quality materials that are CPSC compliant. You know Classy Cassie Collection shoes when you see them.”
Soon, you are going to see Zakurdayev’s footwear shipped even more quickly. “I recently made the decision to transition to ready to ship and while we are switching over, I’ll be adding several new colors and even a new shoe style!” Shop for a new pair of leather sneakers on the Classy Cassie Collection website here and join Zakurdayev’s Insiders Facebook group to stay on top of upcoming releases.