‘We grew up in a large Family - Bethany is the fourth child and Osyth is number seven (of seven). Our parents set up their shoe-making workshop with our eldest brother over 30 years ago. We spent many happy hours helping our parents in the workshop, learning how to work with leather. My first steps were taken wearing a very simple leather moccasin, based on patterns developed individually for my foot shape by my mother, following a traditional Native American design.
When my oldest daughter Saskia started walking I looked for something similar to the shoes we had as children. I didn’t want to force my baby into rigid “supportive” shoes. I couldn’t find anything, so I went back to my parents’ workshop and they helped me make a pair of moccasins. Then people started stopping me in the street asking me where I had got Saskia’s shoes from and my sister and I started to wonder if there was an opportunity to make these shoes more widely available. We consulted Lorraine Jones of The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists. She explained that baby feet are very different to adult feet. The so-called bones, all twenty-eight of them, are really a mass of cartilage and it takes until the late teens for all these bones to ossify. Her view is that small children need to be free to learn to run, skip and jump, and what they don’t need to help with that is a stiff shoe, but something that is flexible and soft. In a perfect world, we’d like to see all early-walkers running around barefoot all the time. The next best thing is a pair of soft, flexible shoes with plenty of wriggle-room for toes. We feel passionately about keeping traditional crafts alive in a commercial sense, not just as a museum piece. It’s not always easy to resist the lure of mass-manufacture but we believe that it’s important to keep these skills going. The other beauty of hand stitching our shoes is that the technology we use has very low environmental impact – what can be simpler than a needle, thread and a pair of scissors? As far as the future is concerned, we are actively researching leather alternatives. There are some very promising developments in “eco leathers”, including organic materials made with bark, pineapple leaves and even mushrooms.’ bimbleshoes.com