Jamie Wells, Shoe Designer, and Lisa Schmitz, Creative Director at the Walking Cradle Company
I discovered Walking Cradle shoes this year when Lisa contacted me to take a look. How she knew I’m all about the style AND the comfort I’ll never know, but we were a match made in heaven. I just can’t/won’t wear shoes that hurt my feet ever again! And, as a fashionista, it’s against my code of confident dressing to wear a frumpy looking shoe. Lo and behold, Walking Cradle shoes pay attention to both! These two women have so much enthusiasm for their jobs and for life in general, that it’s contagious when you talk to them. Lisa Schmitz, Creative Director at Walking Cradle, is likeable right away — she’s professional, friendly, and attentive. Jamie appears to be having the time of her life traveling all over the world designing shoes. Here are their fun stories….
Let’s begin by having you tell us a little about yourself.
LISA: I’m Lisa Loyet Schmitz and I’m 50 years young! I live in Kirkwood, MO (the oldest suburb of St. Louis, MO). I’m married to the coolest guy in the world, Craig Schmitz. We have a blended family of five children. Tolen, who is a copywriter for the advertising agency, Osborn + Barr; Corbin, who is a graduate student at Missouri State University; Michael, who is completing studies at Ranken Technical while working in the IT industry; Jacob, who recently joined the Army National Guard and is stationed for 14 weeks of training in Fort Benning, GA; and Ally, who is a Freshman at Missouri State University studying nursing. I am a passionate amateur chef, and an avid runner and yogi!
It is my privilege and joy to work with Jamie at The Walking Cradle Company. My position as Creative Director gives me the opportunity to see the line as it’s being designed and produced throughout the season and then help develop marketing plans to share these amazing shoes with women everywhere!
JAMIE: I live in St. Louis, MO and have my whole life. My husband Josh is a NIN-loving, math-teaching gamer and an incredible husband and father. Our 7-month old son Jack is a nugget of energy with the squishiest cheeks and rock star hair. I am lucky to get to travel the world, but I am even more grateful to come home. My MIL, FIL and my two brothers-in law all just moved back to St. Louis, so our whole family is here now! I am 33 years old, which is the best age so far. I love volleyball, reading, running and Food Network. I am perpetually learning to cook.
I have the best job on the planet! I have been designing shoes for 5 ½ years, and I still think it is the coolest thing to see my sketches come to life as shoes enjoyed by women all over the country. Working with Lisa to cultivate the Walking Cradles story is a blast. Building a brand is such a unique experience and has given us the opportunity to get ourselves into all kinds of trouble… the good kind! We are constantly devising the next scheme to get the Walking Cradles word out.
What’s the quirkiest/most interesting thing about you?
JAMIE: I know all the words to Reunion’s 1974 hit “Life is a Rock”, which my dad taught me when I was 10. This means I can list a smattering of 50s, 60s and 70s artists, DJs, song titles, lyrics and record labels in under 3 minutes.
LISA: I have a little side hobby called “Kitchen Witches,” which is a group of super-fun-loving women who get together at my house periodically to prep, cook and enjoy meals together. I come up with a theme and then select recipes. I then create stations around my kitchen and the women actually do all the work together (while enjoying wine, of course). We have forged many a friendship with this fun group and at one time about 5 years ago, I actually considered starting my own event business centered around experiential cooking events!
What would we be surprised to learn about you?
JAMIE: The prominent piece of furniture in my living room is a jukebox.
LISA: I am originally from a small farm town (shout out to Carrollton, IL) of about 2,000 people. While I have lived my entire adult life in St. Louis, going back home is really fun. I know how to drive a tractor, bale hay, de-tassel corn, ride a dirt bike and change a flat tire all by myself! It’s always interesting to hear from people back home about what it is they think I do – I’ve heard everything from “You design sweaters for Famous Barr, right?”, to “Have you ever designed a house for a celebrity?” to “Are you still teaching fashion design at Washington University?” All jobs that sound super fun, but certainly not anything I’ve actually ever done!
What are some of the issues that you have faced that may have affected your confidence, and how did you overcome those issues?
JAMIE: I have had the opportunity career-wise to do many things in which I had no experience simply because my background made me the best candidate for the job. I spent a lot of time worrying about my lack of tutelage, mostly because I had a fear of failure. Getting thrown into the fire taught me to become resourceful and to understand that risks are necessary and failure is wherein new ideas are developed. I have acquired a number of skills as a result, the most important of which is the ability to adapt. I still face circumstances in which I don’t know how to do the job, but I am a lot more confident in my ability to solve the problem. Now I look forward to the challenge and embrace the chance to learn something new. [Note from Linda: Atta-girl Jamie!! This is what I call “Fake It Til You Make It!”]
LISA: I have always been extremely focused on setting and meeting goals – whether it is to run a mile in a certain time or get to bed by a certain time; finish a marathon or finish folding the laundry; take a class to improve my work skills or take a bath to relieve my stress. The more challenging, the more likely I am to succeed – the less challenging, I tend to slack! Due to these challenges I set for myself, I sometimes set my sights too high based on my available time. Then my time gets stretched thin and everyone suffers! This affects my confidence in that I don’t pay enough attention to things that matter the most. [Note from Linda: Oy! You women are FIERCE!]
How would you describe your personal style? Are you a tee shirt and jeans, dresses and cardigans, business suits, athleisure wear, etc. kind of gal?
JAMIE: I am a jeans and tee person all the way, but I try to mix it up. I like making myself step outside my comfort zone because I think therein we grow and give ourselves the opportunity for a new or interesting experience. Still, day-to-day I would describe my style as no-fuss. It takes brain power to style oneself, and some days I have the capacity to make it interesting and some days that energy needs to be geared elsewhere.
LISA: My personal style is definitely eclectic! I wear it all! Some days I feel like wearing a distressed pair of jeans with killer boots and a big comfy sweater. Other days you’ll see me in a classic sheath dress with pumps. Most days, at some point, you’ll see me in workout gear with no makeup and a ponytail. I love shopping at thrift stores, and I love holding onto key pieces for decades. However, each season I want to grab a trending piece to pull it all together!
How has your style changed over the years and why?
JAMIE: Growing up, getting dressed was just a to-do to be ticked off. I cared about clothes only in that they were socially necessary and something I had to deal with to get to the business of the day. I never wanted people to be interested in me for how I looked. As a result, I was pretty sloppy in my younger days and would describe my style then as “none”. I have since come to understand that taking a few minutes to put myself together is a form of self-respect and communicates to others who you are and how you want to be treated. I also realized that no one is looking at me more than me, so I just decided to get over myself and have some fun with it! Today, I will wear sparkly silver wide leg culottes on Wednesday in Missouri just to make someone smile (even if that person is just me).
LISA: I feel my personal style is constantly changing! I love to try new trends and find ways for those to fit in with my tried and true styles. I’ve always liked to push the envelope with my clothing selections – particularly when going out. However, over the years I have had to learn that fine line of what items I can pull off and what items people might think I’m trying to be my daughter, who is 18!
What is your favorite style trick or technique you’d like to share with us?
JAMIE: Start with the shoes! [Note by Linda: I know a lot of women start with the shoes and build their outfit from there]
LISA: When in doubt, wear black! And then put on a statement pair of shoes!
What gives you the greatest joy? What keeps you up at night?
JAMIE: God and his gift of my awesome family give me the greatest joy. My 7-month-old son keeps me up at night!
LISA: My greatest joy is, by far, my family. We have been blessed not only with our five amazing kids, but an extended family that is extremely close.
With five kids ages 24, 23, 22, 19 and 18 what keeps me up at night (but only sometimes) is worrying about their safety. They are no longer living under “curfew” in our home, so I always find myself praying at night that they are making good choices and that they arrive home safe.
Tell us about your company and how it got started.
JAMIE AND LISA: The Walking Cradle Company is the result of a rebirth of a traditional size and width business. Walking Cradles shoes are no longer just for the traditional customer; we now have styles that appeal to just about every age. With the new company (which has been in existence for a little over three years), a fresh approach to fashion is a key factor in the styles created by Jamie. “The message we are trying to get out is that the younger you are when you start wearing well-made, properly fitting shoes, the less likely you are to experience the pains and problems that result from wearing poor quality shoes. Making the effort now greatly reduces the chances of needing to wear the stereotypical ‘comfort shoe’ later in life.” [Note from Linda: Amen sisters!!! Wish we knew then what we know now…]
What’s coming up for Walking Cradles this fall?
JAMIE AND LISA: Boy, oh boy, do we have some great stuff coming up this fall! First and foremost, we have introduced our brand-new Metro Collection! This is a highly anticipated group of shoes designed for the woman who is always on the go! We have launched this collection with 6 styles in a variety of colors, and all in sizes and widths! We have been test-driving these shoes for months and I have to tell you, they are freaking amazing! Everyone who has seen or tried them absolutely loves them!
We have partnered with Soles4Souls to donate $1 for every Metro pair sold. For just $1, Soles4Souls will send a pair of donated new or gently used shoes anywhere in the world, putting them on the feet of those most in need.
In addition to the Metro Collection, we have a complete line of casual shoes, career shoes (like pumps with a variety of heel heights and toe characters) and our booties for Fall are the best we’ve seen in years! All Walking Cradles shoes have Tiny Pillows, which are small bubbles of comfortable foot joy! They lightly massage and cushion every step! [Note from Linda: I’m going to review one of the Metro Collection boots — so excited! I LOVE Soles4Souls and plan to do a shoe drive this holiday season.]
Please share an inspirational quote or very brief story to leave us with.
One of our signature statements is that our size and width customers are also our models. Each season we bring together 6-10 women who represent our sizes and widths for a photoshoot. In July 2016, we were booked on a flight home from Denver, set to arrive in St. Louis at 12:30 am. While at the gate, ready to depart, our flight was cancelled and we were told the earliest available flight for us would be on Sunday! With our photoshoot starting at 7:30am Saturday this was a problem! We scrambled for the next few hours, found a hotel, called everyone involved in the photoshoot saying “The shoot must go on!”
The next morning, we set up a “studio” in the lobby of the Aloft Hotel in downtown Denver and for the next 6 hours we art directed the entire photoshoot via Facetime! (Can you imagine all the funny looks we got from people walking through that hotel lobby?) After a successful wrap, we went and had margaritas and rode a roller coaster (the real kind – not the figurative kind we just got off!”). – (the photo Denver_Photoshoot_2016.jpg is us in the lobby, with our photoshoot going on in the screen between us)
What is the best way for members to connect with you?
We have our own Facebook and Instagram account: @JamieAndLisaLoveShoes