Cynthia Seymour has always loved making things with her hands. After studying economics at UMKC, Seymour even went into baking before dabbling in shoemaking. It wasn’t until 2018 that she decided to move to Milan and study the craft of shoe pattern making and design. Now she is the founder and CEO of Saint Maur, a local footwear brand that is creating comfortable, quality clogs.
“I’ve always liked clogs,” Seymour says. “I find them comfortable—I’m not a high heel person. I’ve always found clogs to be the happy middle, where you get the height but still the comfort and safety.”
Seymour sees clogs as a shoe style that appeals to many people of varying ages, styles and cultures. What’s cool about her clogs, she says, is “part of them are handmade by a maker in Cameroon.” Seymour has connected with a handful of artisans from all over the world. While all of her shoe designs are done here in Kansas City, Seymour partners with makers in places like Abuja, Nigeria, and León, Mexico, to create shoe patterns and prepare the upper pieces of her designs. Then those pieces are shipped back to the US and assembled in Saint Maur’s KC-based studio.
“It’s been remarkable meeting different artisans who share the same passion,” Seymour says. “They’re not just people who are hired. I really feel like they’re my partners and my collaborators. For me, it’s important to uplift BIPOC voices and artists and to tell people the story of how their shoes are made.”
Seymour’s own story is inspired by a range of cultures and backgrounds. While she spent most of her life in western Kansas, her father’s family is from the Bahamas and her mother is from South Korea. Seymour’s husband is from Italy, and his family has supported her shoemaking by putting Seymour in touch with Italian shoemakers and craftspeople. Most of Saint Maur’s leather is supplied from Italy, and Seymour has been using a lot of vegetable-tanned leather because the production process is environmentally friendly. (She’s doing research on using European vegan leather.)
Right now, you can find Saint Maur’s shoes at local pop-up events for KC makers and artisans and see her designs on Insta (@saintmaur_kc). Seymour is also working on making sandals, which she hopes to release in time for the warmer months, and she’s finishing her website (saintmaurkc.com) to sell her shoes directly.
“I think Kansas City is having a sort of fashion and art renaissance where people are buying more local handmade goods,” Seymour says. “In places like Italy, that’s always been there. But I think we are seeing more of that here now, and it’s really exciting.”
Mary Henn is a national award-winning writer with an MFA from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is the current associate editor at Kansas City magazine.
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