Interview with Sara Melissa Designs

Final New Logo

I got a chance to interview with designer Sara Melissa for some inside scoop into her world.

Sara Melissa Designs

What made you decide to start your business?

SM: Ultimately I’ve always seen it as part of my dream.    I wanted to create something that was authentic to who I am and what I stand for. Creating something that has substance and depth has always been something important for me.  I come from Nicaragua, a third world country that is scarred by 100 years of war and, as a result, is one of the poorest in the world.  That being said, there is a defining need for me to contribute something that helps others, starting my own business is a platform that gives me a chance to do that.

What is your business known for or what is unique about it?

SM: I wanted to bring forth something authentic, with lasting quality and depth, something that transcended fashion itself.  To incorporate that into my brand I came up with Yin Yang shoes.   Playing off of the Yin Yang philosophy itself.  In a nutshell; that you need darkness to see light something that you can find in most of life’s situations, a positive to balance out the negative.  I believe in this and find it powerful.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

SM: Finding inspiration is probably my favorite part because I get to travel and turn my experiences into concepts.  I really enjoy brainstorming new ideas and incorporating them into my designs.

Sara Melissa Designs 3

What has been your greatest accomplishment?

SM: This is my greatest accomplishment, having the opportunity to turn my dream into reality.

What would you say is the hardest part of growing this business is?

SM: The beginning is always hard in any business because it’s a one person circus for a long time.   You wear many hats and sometimes do things that you might not feel comfortable doing.  It’s ever changing and right now the hardest part of my job is getting people to know my work.  It’s something that doesn’t happen overnight and takes a lot of energy.

What is one thing that you would like people to know about this brand that they might not otherwise know?

SM: We donate 5% of our sales to a non- profit feminist organization that helps empower the rural women of Nicaragua.  La F.E.M. has been doing this for the past two decades by providing education, legal and moral support to the often forgotten women of the field.  It helps them become economically independent from men who, because of lack of education think that they are better than women.

How would you describe your style?

SM: Classy, fashion forward, with some quirk. It’s meant to be fun, and fresh. Fresh, meaning it’s a new point of view, my point of view. I love mixing prints colors and textures, as most designers do; however I being a fashion lover myself, I haven’t found what I’m currently working on, not with my particular swag. 🙂

Sara Melissa Designs 1

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Campus Casual


This post is for all you college students out there! We all know the struggle of having to choose between getting yourself dressed and ready for class in the morning, or sleeping just a little bit longer. I admit most of the time I have just rolled out of bed, brushed my teeth and threw on some shorts and a T-shirt. This semester I’m going to attempt to look like I tried a little when I go to class. This doesn’t mean that you have to put on a dress and full makeup. You can make sweats and a T-shirt look fashionable if you do it right. In this post, I’ll be giving you examples of some looks that I think would make great causal class outfits. Check them out!

The Dressed Up T-Shirt


A great tip to easily dress up any casual look is to add a simple necklace. Long, thin chains, like in the picture above, work perfectly.

Big, Comfy Sweatshirt and Jeans


For those cold fall days, throw on a big sweatshirt over your stretchiest jeans. Not only is this look super comfortable, the jeans make it look more put together than leggings.

Old, Torn Up Shorts


Disclaimer: This look does not promote wearing tiny daisy dukes to class! Instead, get a pair of baggy, ripped up jeans shorts (that cover up your rear-end). These will replace your running shorts and make you instantly look more fashionable, without sacrificing comfort! Pair these with a baggy shirt, sweatshirt or sweater.

Sweats On Sweats


Sweats don’t have to make you look sloppy. A simple crewneck paired with some jogger sweatpants and tennis shoes can make for a chic athleisure look.

The Quirky Graphic Tee


When you’re tried and not in the mood to talk on your way to class, your graphic tee can say it all. Quirky sayings like “I’m not a morning person” or “I need coffee” are really appropriate for an early morning trek to campus.

Sweater/Jean Combo


Just like the big sweatshirt/jean combo, a big sweater/jean combo can look even more put together. Match this with a cute combat or chelsea boot.

Big Knit Cardigan


Lastly, something you can throw over anything, a big knit cardigan. You can pair this item with several looks that I’ve already described. The best part about this is that it’s not too heavy so it’s perfect for those days when it’s cold in the morning and then warm by the end of the day.

That’s it for casual campus outfits.  Grab some of these looks before it’s time to go back to school!

Thanks for reading!


Travel In Style


Are you taking a trip this summer? Do you ever wonder what you should wear to effortlessly combine comfort and style? It can be tricky. You don’t want to be that person that looks like they’re trying too hard to look good, but you also don’t want to look like a slob. I have come up with a few outfit options that exude class, comfort and ease. Check them out!

The Athletic Look 

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Athleisure has been a huge trend for the past couple of seasons. This look is great for a trek through the airport. The tennis shoes offer comfort and practicality. The big bag is useful for all of the small things you need to throw in for a trip. Headphones are a must for a trip on an airplane, whether there is a crying baby behind you or if you want to fall asleep listening to your favorite tunes. This outfit screams travel chic!

The Boho Traveler

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This look has a more boho west coat vibe to it. It would be a great choice if you were traveling from a cold to warm place or vice versa, because there are layers. This look is just plain cool and versatile for any destination.

Pretty in Pink

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This outfit is great for a tropical getaway. The dress is comfy for the plane ride and also keeps you cool when you reach your destination. The flats add more comfort for walking from gate to gate. This fun, flirty look is a great option for any summer vacation.

Back to Business

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For all of you business travelers, this outfit it for you. It is professional, comfortable and practical. The monochromatic color scheme is so chic and understated. The trench coat adds warmth for those cold drafts on the airplane. The bag is also big enough to fit all of your business accessories in. The headphones, again, a must-have for any plane ride.

Thanks for reading and happy travels!


Monday Moment’s Inside: Testosterone Shoes

Who said men are not as fashionable as women? Well, times are changing. Testosterone is putting a stamp on the fashion industry, feeling the gap between fashionable and comfortable. We get to go behind the scenes and see what it takes to make this brand.
Owner Background Summary:
Joseph Butrus started selling shoes in a shoe store in Philadelphia as a young man when his father pulled him out of a pool hall and made him get a real job.  He was passionate about selling and always excelled.  He worked for Edison Brothers in the Bakers and Chandlers divisions for almost 30 years and was promoted all the way to Vice President in charge of merchandise for Chandlers.  At the end of the 1980’s, Chandlers was closed and he found himself looking for a job.  Instead of moving from his St. Louis home to work for another company, he started his own business.
Joe still lives in the same house with his wife Diane. His 3 daughters, Diane, Suzanne, and Michelle are all involved in the company, each holding executive level positions and this close-knit family all live within 10-15 minutes of each other.
How did you start your company?
Joe Butrus started the company in 1989 in the basement of his house selling the Bronx brand, as the US distributor of Bronx shoes brand.   The company experienced rapid growth thanks to Joe’s perseverance and the success of the Bronx brand at retail.  The company expanded into Brazil launching the Diba Imports brand and opening an entirely new market of designs and innovation for the company. Diba is an acronym for Dutch, Italian, Brazilian, American representing the markets from which Joe took his design inspiration. Capitalizing on the success of the Bronx brand to date, the company opened its first stand-alone Bronx retail location on Melrose Ave. The company continued to recognize significant growth and has gone on to launch the extremely successful Luichiny brand, catering to bold, sexy and inspiring women as well as the Diba True brand, for women living in the moment, living the real life. This month the company launches Testosterone designed exclusively for men. Featuring trend setting, fashion forward designs Testosterone is not just another shoe brand but is a statement, one that is destined to be an enormous success.
What is your company about?
The inspiration for Testosterone, came from the word itself. It is a man’s word, it is in every man’s soul, it is a man’s DNA and it is exclusive to men.  Men want a combination of fashion and function and Testosterone fits the bill. They want to look good and be noticed yet be comfortable. Testosterone makes the man. Testosterone shoes make the man better!!!
What are the best and worst things about being a business owner?
Best – Watching your idea become reality and knowing that your hard work and dedication allow your family and the families of your employees to live a great life and having the satisfaction of knowing you made a difference in a lot of people’s lives.
Worst – As the business owner you are on the clock all the time. Every facet of the business is connected to you and you need to be in a position to address any matter at any time. Additionally, knowing that your family and employees rely heavily on your leadership, guidance and counsel can be daunting and rewarding at the same time.
What are the things you like most about your career?
Showing our footwear samples to a boutique owner and having them get excited because they know their customers will buy them!
Walking down the street and seeing someone wearing our shoes and knowing that those shoes are our creation!
What are some of your top sources of inspiration?
Trends in clothing, belts, handbags, jewelry and accessories give us some of our ideas.
Materials and fabrication processes also play a large role
What is a typical day like?
Research and Development, customer focus groups and interaction, trend analysis, material and fabric sourcing and finally putting it all together in a shoe that people can’t wait to have on their foot
What are some of your greatest accomplishments?
Moving from selling shoes out of my basement to a 45,000 square foot building and shipping shoes to over 60 countries around the world.
What’s your philosophy of life?
Live every day as if your life depends on it!
Any additional info/comments:
We are so excited to launch the Testosterone brand in Las Vegas. Our designs, fabrics and colors are sure to be a hit and we are already looking at relevant line extensions. In fact, we are already looking for partners interested in maximizing the potential of the Testosterone brand in the marketplace through strategic licensing arrangements.

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