Job Envy: Sara Burlison

 In Culture, Interviews

For most of us, a shoe obsession (while enjoyable and a good ego and height booster) is nothing more than a severe drain to your bank account. But for Sara Burlison, associate designer for Brown Shoe, her addiction to stilettos and kitten heels not only serve as her meal ticket, but as her passport to travel the world.


Sara Burlison, 29
Associate Designer
Fergie Footwear, Brown Shoe

Chasing the Dream:
I’ve been obsessed with shoes for as long as I can remember. I’ve dabbled in different creative fields, but always felt like something was missing. A friend worked at Brown Shoe, and after looking through his sketches and all the beautiful shoe designs, I just fell in love. So I started building my portfolio and was given my first opportunity to design shoes for Brown Shoe in 2008 for the Carlos by Carlos Santana shoe line.

Education: I attended the University of Southern California and received degrees in Graphic Design and Communications.

Best Work Day Ever: Last February, I attended the MAGIC convention in Las Vegas, one the biggest trade shows in the fashion industry. Coincidentally, Carlos Santana was performing in Vegas that same week. He gave our team concert tickets and VIP passes to meet him after the show. I grew up listening to his music, and at the time spent my days helping design his shoes, so meeting him in person was a surreal moment for me, and one that I will never forget.

Why Her Job Rocks: Designers travel frequently to New York, Paris, London, Milan, Barcelona, Florence and Hong Kong to see the latest trends, shop for leathers, fabrics and other shoe components, and find inspiration for upcoming lines, which is absolutely amazing.

Typical Day: Although there’s no “typical day,” every day involves being surrounded by shoes! We’re constantly in contact with our offices overseas discussing everything from fit and design changes to price negotiations and shipping. Some days are spent meeting with retail store buyers and developing shoe assortments, while others are spent with the design team discussing trends and direction for the upcoming line and then getting to work on the actual sketches and production.

Proudest Moment: Some of the most rewarding moments have been seeing the creativity and hard work that goes into every shoe pay off when our shoes are featured in magazines like PEOPLE, StyleWatch and InStyle. It’s also extremely gratifying to see people wearing a pair of shoes you designed. One weekend, I saw two different girls running around in shoes I had designed!

Goals for the Future:
I recently became the associate designer for the Fergie Footwear line, which is so exciting. I want to bring my personal creativity and point of view to an already amazing team and continue the tremendous growth of the brand. I want Fergie Footwear to be the hottest celebrity brand in the business!

Fave Pair of Shoes: I have a new favorite shoe for every season! Right now I’m obsessed with the caged wedge sandal from the Fergie line called “Bingo.”



Sara Burlison, associate designer for Brown Shoe

Sara Burlison, associate designer for Brown Shoe


Photo credit: Photo by Attilio D’Agostino

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