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A step in the right direction

Posted at 11:24 PM, Mar 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-23 23:33:49-04

"I used to make clothes when I was little. My mother taught me how to make clothes when I was 9 and I just fell in love with it."

A young seamstress, with a flare for fashion.

"My father was a photographer and he gave me a love for texture and composition and like I said my mother taught me how to sew so I really feel like I combined those two things.

The seed was planted early as a young girl growing up in Connecticut. But this fashionista took a "step" in another direction. While attending Spellman College she did a fashion internship in France and found her passion in Italy.

"I just fell in love with shoes. It was something that I knew nothing about and I was just so fascinated by the way they have so much skill in Italy.

Today with Baltimore as her home, Tori Soudan has her own line. She's designing shoes in "her" factory in Italy and celebrating ten years in business.

"It was especially challenging in the beginning because I chose to manufacture in Italy and I don't speak Italian. I did not know anyone there in the industry and so I was starting from zero...I was persistent. I kept going back and forth and would meet people, and I would keep in touch with them. I would ask questions. I would learn."

Soudan has designed more than 35 styles. Her favorite the Adia boot and just as this comes in a variety of colors her shoes and boots come from a variety of inspirations.

"I was inspired by the eclipse of the sun when I designed my Julie boots. It has circles."

"I fall in love with every design and even before I design I fell in love with leather."

"I just like to let the pen flow. Whatever my ideas are and just keep sketching until I'm happy with the design and I don't release it until it's ready."

In the pandemic, this small black business owner says she enjoyed success with new customers and celebrity clients.

"People have embraced shopping online so much more now, particularly shoes...It was a good year. I started the year in February where my shoes were on the Tamron Hall Show and then they were on an awards show and then the In Style Magazine."

And did I mention, she's a working mom too.

"Two are older, two are younger so that makes it easier...we as women we always wear many hats and this is just another hat that I wear."

In this Women's History Month, Soudan admits she's in field dominated by men and with few people of color.

She has this advice for any aspiring designer wanting to one day walk in her shoes.

“When you don't have to work when you're not on the clock, what do you think about? I always think about design, so I know I'm in the right place."