"I pretty much look at the world and see shoes," says Ann Roth, standing in the new Cherry Pie fashion and accessories boutique in Vinings. She’s showing me some of the espadrilles she’s made exclusively for the store, including the signature "Cherry Pie" espadrille, a light, cherry-red shoe with a beige rope heel and beige straps.
When store owner Tanya Munia shows Roth a deep orange sweater, the tall, blonde, 29-year-old designer says, "I could make a shoe called Pumpkin Pie!" Then she smiles. "See? I’m always thinking about shoes."
For Roth, a native of Asheville, North Carolina, now living in Kennesaw with her husband Randy, shoemaking is a relatively new passion. For years, her main focus was acting – she’s performed mainly in community theater and indie films – but three years ago she fell in love with a pair of blue toile Yves Saint Laurent wedges. "I thought (they were) the cutest shoes in the world," Roth says. "I’d never seen a pair of toile shoes in my life." She was so inspired that she spent a year researching how to make shoes, ripping apart existing pairs and recovering them hand with fabric, embellishments and ties.
Ultimately, Roth became so consumed by the project that she decided to do it fulltime and launch an eponymous collection of espadrilles, which includes tie backs, sling backs, round toes and peep toes. With the exception of the collection at Cherry Pie, all of the shoes are made to order. They include her designs ($106 to $128) and custom designs ($125 to $185). The bases are factory made; Roth does the rest herself, right down to the labels – her husband even paints the shoeboxes. The process, from selecting the fabric to the hand-placed embellishments, takes about two weeks.
What would otherwise be the hard part of most – finding inspiration – comes at rapid fire for Roth and is recorded in her "shoe journals." When we meet for dinner at Meehan’s in Vinings, she talks about making a heel that resembles the stone wall around the patio. The Celtic design on the planter, shed says, would look good on a toe made from Scotch plaid. For fall, Roth’s "resort collection" combines fabrics and details relating to exotic locations. A line of wedding espadrilles is in the works. Roth is also organizing custom shoe parties (she calls them "Shoes and Girlfriends"), where she brings fabric samples to your house or office.
"I believe that shoes, more than anything we wear, represent who we want to be, not just who we are," Roth says.
Ann Roth shoes are available at Cherry Pie, 2810 Pace Ferry Road, Suite 210 or online at annrothshoes.com.
This interview with espadrilles designer Ann Roth appeared in the Atlanta Style section of The Atlantan. At the time, Roth was new to Atlanta's fashion scene and customers were falling in love with her impossibly cute espadrilles.