All About the Sadie Ballerina
The Sadie Ballerina will always have a special place in my heart. It was the first design I ever sketched, and the process of dreaming it up largely set the tone for all of Maylis. That first pencil drawing hangs on my bulletin board, complete with smudge marks from a subpar eraser (I think it was the first time I'd used a pencil in three years) and a bow that I ended up refining multiple times as I dove into the actual design process months later.
One of the first steps I took for Maylis was signing up for an intensive seminar through a trade school in Italy to get an overview of shoe manufacturing, materials, and what this whole thing could maybe look like. The class was (sadly) virtual and I was joined by three other individuals from all over the world on Google Meet for four days of classes. On day five, we each signed up for a one-on-one time slot with the instructor, a renowned patternmaker who spent most of his career working for one of the most admired and beloved shoe brands in the entire world. My stomach was in knots as I began to present my ideas and initial sketches to him, but, as it always does when I talk about Maylis, my nerves quickly turned to excitement. That didn't last long.
"They aren't interesting," he told me, "There is nothing about these designs that will set you apart. I don't think they are worth pursuing."
I've worn many, many pairs of ballet flats over the years, from casual canvas versions to more splurge-worthy, pointed-toe styles. I reached for them multiple times a week, all year long, but never felt as though I had one version that was perfect for everything. The soft, super flexible, "packable" styles felt too casual to dress up and truly take an outfit to the next level for work or a special occasion. My dressier flats weren't quite as comfortable, and didn't always feel quite right for days spent out and about with my kids.
Our Maylis ballerina was my solution. I combined all my favorite elements of the ballet flats I've worn for years, and added a few of my own twists—nothing wild, mainly just a simple, streamlined bow that took great pains to get the proportions just right. My wonderful team in Italy helped me decipher my somewhat-confusing notes ("flexible, but structured") and land on the sacchetto construction method that minimizes seams and keeps the shoes incredibly lightweight. Paired with our buttery soft nappa leathers that mold to the foot so well, I truly feel like we nailed it. When people ask which style is the most comfortable, this is the one I point to. It truly is my perfect ballerina flat.
Sure, we didn't reinvent the wheel here. These probably aren't shoes that will ever be on a red carpet or the cover of a magazine. But, where I hope with all my heart that they WILL be is in your closet—a beloved staple you can reach for again and again, for years to come, knowing you'll always feel comfortable and confident when you step out your door in them. That's what Maylis is all about. That's why, for one of the first times in my life, I didn't listen to a teacher.
P.S. The Sadie Ballerina was recently featured on The Nat Note!