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We launched Margaux with a mission to make beautiful, more comfortable shoes: The staples we we needed in our own closets, and the quality we could count on season after season. Each pair is designed with care in New York, handmade in Spain, and engineered to deliver comfort, confidence, and style without missing a step.


Making The Ballet Mule


While the introduction of a new silhouette is punctuated with a fizzy feel of excitement, there's no denying that a lot of work went into the creation process. 

In this new series, Sarah opens up her diary for a peek behind the scenes, looking back at key moments in the design, development, and production of our newest styles to give you a first look at how we do what we do when taking a silhouette from sketch to reality. Up first, The Ballet Mule.

One year and one month ago, I boarded a plane bound for Spain with our longtime product developers and beloved travel companions, Nadine and David. We were making our semi-annual pilgrimage to the small town in southeastern Spain where we have manufactured our shoes from the very beginning—a humming manufacturing hub with a long boom-and-bust history of making footwear for some of the most recognizable brands in the business. We arrived with an endless list of to-dos to tackle while we were there: new styles, new colors, and revisions, revisions, revisions in our endless mission to make our core products the best they could be.

It was late February, and by that time concerns about the oncoming pandemic had begun to percolate—though at that point, it was business as usual and we had big plans product-wise for 2020. It was the year we’d open permanent stores in new cities. The year we’d expand our selection of high heels, launching a pump that we'd been developing for over eighteen months. The next two weeks were a blur of long days on the factory floor, punctuated by lengthy 3 p.m. lunches that fueled us through supplier visits, sketching sessions, and Eastern-Time phone calls that often went late into the night. It was our last taste of the world as it used to be: By the time we returned to New York, the world was changing—and fast. 

While comfort and style have always been central to the Margaux ethos, those words began to take on new meaning in the blur of the months that followed: Comfort in all its forms was the world’s modus operandi. And style? Well, style might have looked different—but it felt more sacred than ever. Both we at Margaux HQ and our customers were craving pieces that brought elegance (and humanity) to our everyday, whether an heirloom piece of jewelry or an effortless pair of shoes.

That’s where the idea for our newest arrival—The Ballet Mule—emerged: an easy, slip-on style that embodies the ease and elegance we were craving from home. And while it’s certainly not the first style we developed mid-pandemic, it is perhaps the one that feels most relevant to the way we all live now. 

Alexa and I are often asked about the process of taking an idea from sketch to sample, to real, tangible product. That was a process we had mastered after five years of trial and error with our Spanish factory. But developing a product when the entire product team is working with margins of millimeters at a distance? That is an experience nothing can prepare you for. 

This Ballet Mule started as all new products do, with a spark of inspiration, which through David’s skilled hands became a sketch. We then sent the sketch on to the factory, where it passed through the hands of countless suppliers and technicians, each working on the individual components that contributed to the greater whole: Lasts, patterns, soles, insoles, stitching, cutting, and so on down the line until voila!  The first prototype. And this is where remote product development becomes complicated—and interesting.

The most critical step for Margaux in any product development process is the rigorous fit-testing that occurs throughout the lifetime of a product’s development. Every sample (and there are often many), is tried and tested by a professional fit model, who gives us direction (a millimeter here, a millimeter there) as we look to nail the perfect fit. While we used to gather in the conference room at Margaux’s Chelsea headquarters for in-person fit trials, the new realities of our virtual world meant these fit trials happened remotely. So, we gathered on Zoom for virtual fittings, intuitively trusting our longtime fit model as we moved through round after round. After months of back and forth—a sometimes comical merry-go-round of shuffling samples between our factory in Spain, me in Florida (where I was home with family), our fit model in New Jersey, and Nadine and David in New York—we finally nailed the look and the fit of this new mule.

Fast-forward to today, and The Ballet Mule is just a few weeks live on the site, with pairs shipping to customers around the country. It has certainly struck a chord, just as we hoped it would and believed it might. Back home in Chelsea, I have come to relish the everyday ritual of slipping into a trusty pair of jeans, a soft sweater, and my now well-loved pair of saddle Ballet Mule samples, which I’ve kept on daily rotation for several months. Grey winter days have given way to cloudless blue skies and budding trees that hint of spring. While I sit at my dining table (turned makeshift workstation) preparing orders and color cards for future collections, I am reminded that there is so much to be grateful for—and so much we have learned along the way. 

And as I fire up my laptop for what promises to be another whirlwind day, it’s both comforting and inspiring to remember that despite one year of sudden and constant change, our mission and message is not just unchanged, but more relevant than ever: That every woman deserves to feel as beautiful as she does comfortable, wherever she is going and whatever she is doing (even if that means never leaving home). And for me, the Ballet Mule does just that. 

Shop The Ballet Mule here.