Sarah Sherlock is the owner and creative force behind Rare Pear, a handmade footwear and accessories company that she runs with her husband Ben in Topsham, Devon. 

After completing a degree in Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins, Sarah Sherlock began working in trend forecasting and colour prediction for the fashion industry; a job which allowed her “to work across multiple brands and different product areas”.  After spending almost three years at Calvin Klein in the US, Sherlock returned to the UK where, after working for a number of high street brands and fashion houses, she joined Lacoste.  It was here that she met her husband Ben, a former Architect who had retrained in Footwear and Construction at Cordwainers in London.  Together, they talked about one day running their own business, a dream that became a reality late last year when they launched their company Rare Pear.  We sat down with her to find out more.

What motivated you to start your own label?

My husband Ben and I have dreamed of setting up our own business for years, whilst also raising our family.  The goal has always been to do with both.  Starting Rare Pear has enabled us to be together, doing what we love, in a place that we love to be.

What does a typical day at Rare Pear involve? 

No two days are the same.  At the moment the business is spread between different locations so one moment I can be racing across town to our footwear factory and the next, be back at home laying out zips on our kitchen floor.  It's certainly never boring, that's for sure!

What is your creative process?

Our creative process is very organic - nothing like the big brands that plan their ranges 18 months in advance.  At Rare Pear we are able to react to ideas very quickly because we have created a range of beautiful, classic silhouettes that can be easily added to and adapted based on current trends. 

Why is it important to you that all Rare Pear designs are handmade in the UK?

We are passionate about British manufacturing and believe that products made in this country are unsurpassed.  The quality of materials and the traditional skills used in the UK are some of the best in the world and British footwear is regarded as some of the finest you can buy.  We want to show that our shoes and bags are made in the same way. 

How do you balance creativity with commerce? 

That's a tough one!  It's easy to get carried away with just wanting to make beautiful things but I have learnt, from working for high street retailers, that product needs to be commercial to sell.  However, I really believe that if a product shows true beauty and uniqueness within its design and manufacturing, it will always sell.

We’re passionate about British manufacturing and believe that products made in this country are unsurpassed

 

Are there any pieces in your current collection that you are particularly fond of? 

I truly love all the styles.  So much effort and love has gone into making each and every piece that they are all important to me.  However, I am passionate about our hair on hide material.  I think that the perception is that this material is just for winter but we are using it across our Spring/Summer range, in petal pink, grey and pale caramel colours.  It wears beautifully and is a little bit different.

In terms of the bags, I would say that Everyday Mae is one I am particularly proud of.  I use mine as a large purse because it fits all the essentials in it and I can simply transfer it from bag to bag; be that the children's swimming bag, the shopping bag or the car.  All the leathers used in this collection are natural vegtan leather.  I love the nature of these leathers and the way they take on a natural patina.  Over time they show their use - the journey that is has been on with you - and it becomes a very personal item.  I love that!

Photo: Francis John Contreras for Crafts Council - Design Days Dubai 2015

What is the biggest challenge of running your own business?

The greatest challenges are always when you have to take a gamble, either with an idea, or with money.  And of course setting up the business to begin with was a huge gamble!  There are also times when the work/life balance can be tricky to achieve. 

and THE greatest reward?

The greatest reward is being able to live in Devon, raising our children in a place that they love as much as we do.  Devon is such a unique place and we feel very lucky to be creating our dream here.

What does success look like to you?

Professional success for us would be making a living out of a business that we have created together and are passionate about.  It's a rare thing these days to be able to follow your dreams.  Following that dream, and in a place that we love, with our children happy and healthy would be a life well spent!

Which women do you admire?

I admire Mothers.  Being a mother myself, I know how hard it can be, even when, in reality, I have it very easy compared to single mothers, like my own.  I really admire women who strive to make their lives and the lives of their families better through their love, courage, and work ethic.


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Grace Delicate Clutch

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Grace Silver   Clutch

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Grace Dalmation Clutch

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Grace Leopard Clutch

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